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Great Lakes steel production plunges by 25,000 tons

A bar of steel makes its way through the 80-inch hot strip mill at AcerlorMittal Indiana Harbor on its way to becoming a coil of steel. Great Lakes steel production fell by 10.2 percent last week.

Great Lakes steel production plummeted to 630,000 tons last week, a 3.8 percent drop.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 655,000 tons of metal the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Most of the steel made in the Great Lakes region is produced around the southern shore of Lake Michigan in Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana.

Overall, domestic steel mills made 1.74 million tons of metal last week, a 0.74 percent decrease from the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 75.4 percent so far this year, up from 74.4 percent at the same point in 2017, according to the AISI.

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Domestic steelmakers used about 74.2 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended June 16, down from 74.9 percent at the same time a year ago and from 74.8 percent a week prior, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Some analysts say steelmaking capacity utilization of about 90 percent is considered financially healthy for the industry, at least for the larger integrated mills like those around Lake Michigan, because of their high fixed costs.

U.S. national steel output is up by 1.7 percent so far this year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production in the Southern district, a wide geographic swath that includes many mini mills, fell to 644,000 tons last week, down from 645,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the greater Midwest dropped to 172,000 tons last week, down from 178,000 tons the previous week.

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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.