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Great Lakes steel production shoots up by 26,000 tons

A bar of steel makes its way through the 80" hot strip mill at AcerlorMittal Indiana Harbor on its way to becoming a coil of steel.

Great Lakes steel production rose to 681,000 tons last week, a 3.96 percent increase as compared to the previous week, and the second straight week it's shot up by more than 20,000 tons.

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 1.813 million tons of metal last week, a 1.14 percent decrease compared to the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 74.8 percent so far this year, up from 74.6 percent at the same point in 2017.

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Domestic steelmakers used about 77.8 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended March 10, down from 78.7 percent the previous week and also up from 73.6 percent at the same time a year ago, 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 fell by 21,000 tons last week, and is down 0.2 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 and is usually the second largest steelmaking region after the Great Lakes, fell to 686,000 tons last week, down from 724,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the greater Midwest fell to 163,000 tons last week, down from 169,000 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.