Great Lakes steel production slides last week

A train carrying molten iron passes in front of Blast Furnace No. 7 at ArcelorMittal in East Chicago. Great Lakes steel production fell by 6,000 tons last week.

Great Lakes steel production fell by 6,000 tons to 670,000 tons last week, a 0.89% decrease and the second straight week of decline.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 676,000 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, which are home to half the nation's blast furnace capacity and the largest steel mills in North America.

Overall, domestic steel mills in the United States made 1.862 million tons of steel last week, down 1.4% from 1.88 million tons the previous week.

So far this year, domestic steel mills in the United States have made 83.4 million tons of steel, a 2.4% increase over the 81.4 million tons made during the same period in 2018. Steel production was up 11.6% nationally in the first week of 2019, but the difference between 2019's and last year's output has been declining ever since.

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U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 80.3% through Nov. 9, up from 78.1% at the same point in 2018, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Domestic steelmakers used about 80.5% of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Saturday, down from 81.2% a year earlier and from 81.6% the previous week.

A steel capacity utilization rate of 83.4% earlier this year was the highest level reached in the U.S. since September 2008, according to the trade publication Platts.

The domestic steel industry had not been running at 80% capacity for years until capacity use general rose after the Section 232 tariffs of 25% were enacted last year. But marketing conditions have since been deteriorating amid slumping demand from automakers and other customers. U.S. Steel recently idled East Chicago Tin and blast furnaces, including one at Gary Works, while ArcelorMittal is idling Blast Furnace #3 at Indiana Harbor West.


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.