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Steel production up 11.6 percent last week as compared to same time last year

The ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor steel mill is shown. Great Lakes steel production dropped by 15,000 tons last week as compared to the previous week, but was up year-over-year.

Great Lakes steel production fell to 711,000 tons last week, a drop of 2 percent.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 726,000 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 1.87 million tons of metal last week, down from the 1.89 million tons made the previous week but up by 11.6 percent as compared to the same time last year.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 78.3 percent this year, up from 74 percent at the same point in 2017, according to the AISI.

Domestic steelmakers used about 79.8 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Dec. 22, up from 71.9 percent at the same time a year ago and down from 80.6 percent a week prior, 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.

Nationally, as 25 percent Section 232 tariffs make imports more expensive, steel output is up by 6.1 percent this year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, a 0.1 percent increase as compared to the past week and at least the 17th straight week of increase to the annual figure.

Production in the Southern district, a wide geographic swath that includes many mini mills, rose to 680,000 tons last week, up from 676,000 tons the previous week.

Steel output in the greater Midwest dipped to 189,000 ton last week, down from 191,000 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.