Great Lakes steel production rises by 12,000 tons

A high definition plasma cutter cuts a slab of steel at Tri-State Industries in Hammond. Great Lakes steel production rose to 731,000 tons last week.

Great Lakes steel production rose to 731,000 tons last week, an increase of 1.66 percent from the previous week.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 719,000 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.

Overall, domestic steel mills made 1.891 million tons of steel last week, up from the 1.876 million tons made the previous week but up by 10.3 percent as compared to the same time last year.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 79.5 percent through Jan 12, up from 73.6 percent at the same point in 2018, according to the AISI.

Domestic steelmakers used about 81 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Dec. 29, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

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Some analysts say steel-making 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 in Northwest Indiana, because of their high fixed operating costs. But the capacity utilization rate has been significantly higher this year than during a downturn in the steel industry several years ago.

So far this year, domestic steel mills have made 3.2 million tons, a 9.9 percent increase over the same period in 2018.

Production in the Southern district, a wide geographic swath that includes many mini mills, fell to 654,000 tons last week, down from 661,000 tons the previous week.

Steel output in the greater Midwest rose to 206,000 tons last week, up from 203,000 tons the previous week.


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.