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U.S. steel production up 3.1 percent thus far this year

Shown is ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor. Great Lakes steel mills produced 685,000 tons of metal last week.

Great Lakes steel production rose to 685,000 tons last week, a slight 3,000 ton increase.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 682,000 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 1.836 million tons of metal last week, up from the 1.815 million tons made the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 76.4 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 78.3 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended July 28, up from 74.3 percent at the same time a year ago and up from 77.4 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 in Northwest Indiana because of their high fixed operating costs.

Nationally, as tariffs make imports more expensive, U.S. steel output is up by 3.1 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, rose to 684,000 tons last week, up from 663,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the greater Midwest rose to 190,000 tons last week, up from 186,000 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.