Davis Index: Market Intelligence for the Global Metals and Recycled Materials Markets

US Steel restarted the Edgar Thomson No. 1 blast furnace at its Mon Valley Works in Pennsylvania this week.


The blast furnace was idled in late April due to lower steel demand resulting from COVID-19 related shutdowns. 


US Steel spokeswoman Meghan Cox told Davis Index that the company is adjusting to changing market conditions by utilizing the flexibility afforded by banked blast furnaces. 


The furnace at Mon Valley was reactivated to meet updated volume requirements and US Steel will continue to evaluate and adjust production according to customer demand, she said.


Mon Valley’s smaller, 1.4mn nt per year No. 3 blast furnace remained operational through the period. The No. 1 blast furnace can produce 1.5mn nt annually, though its present capacity utilization was not disclosed by US Steel. 


In late April, US Steel confirmed layoffs and the temporarily idling at Mon Valley Works. Though the company sent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices to 6,500 workers at that time, the actual workforce reduction was expected at about 2,700.


US Steel temporarily idled its No. 6 blast furnace at Gary Works in Indiana and No. 1 blast furnace at Mon Valley on April 30. A relatively small number of layoffs expected at the Mon Valley site did not trigger WARN notices. US Steel had previously announced the idling of three other blast furnaces. 


On May 2019, US Steel announced a $1bn investment to upgrade various facilities at Mon Valley. The Edgar Thompson plant was slated to receive $400mn toward endless casting and rolling technology to produce higher quality steel. 


On March 2020, however, US Steel reassessed investments under a new COVID-19 influenced market and the investment in Big River Steel, which resulted in the Mon Valley Works upgrade capital investment decreasing to $85mn with an extended timeline.

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