Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region rose to 635,000 tons last week, the sixth time it’s risen out of seven weeks so far in 2016.

Local steel output has been much lower than normal because of soaring imports that snatched a record-breaking 29 percent of total market share last year, when China exported a record 120 million tons, depressing steel prices around the globe. However, imports have been slowing as the federal government has started to impose more tariffs.

Great Lakes steel output rose by 6,000 tons, or 0.9 percent, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate. Overall U.S. steel output rose by 1.06 percent during the same period.

Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in the Chicago area, mainly Lake and Porter counties. Indiana, which also has steelmaking operations in Fort Wayne and Crawfordsville, has led the nation in steel production for more than 30 years, largely because of the big local mills on the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Calumet Region.

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Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, rose to 592,000 tons last week, up from 587,000 a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.7 million tons, up from 1.68 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 72.8 percent last week, up from 71.9 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 72.4 percent at the same time a year earlier, but some industry analysts say it wouldn’t be healthy unless it were over 90 percent.

Year-to-date steel output has been 11.4 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 68.7 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Output had been 12.4 million tons at the same time in 2015.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.