U.S. Steel said yesterday that it plans to close its Gary Works coke plant in Gary, Ind., in May, displacing about 300 workers. It will mark the end of a coke-making era at the steel plant that once operated several coke batteries.
U.S. Steel spokeswoman Courtney Boone said the company notified United Steelworkers of America officials on Wednesday of the permanent shutdown. She said it was a strategic decision based on market conditions and the company’s long-term coke strategy.
It’s unclear where the Gary Works steel production facilities will obtain coke once the plant closes. A little more than a year ago, U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi said the company would apply for permits to replace its blast furnace at a plant in Fairfield, Ala, with an electric arc furnace. Longhi said the switchover from costly blast furnaces to scrap-fed EAFs would make the company more flexible and efficient in the long run. U.S. Steel also recently completed a $1.2 billion coke plant upgrade at its Clairton Works, in Clairton, Pa. and shipping coke from there could be an option for the Gary Works.
The cash price of steel billet on the LME closed at $300.00 per metric ton on Thursday, February 26. Also on the LME, the 3-month price of steel billet closed at $310.00 per metric ton.
Chinese steel prices were flat for the day. The price of iron ore 58% fines from India hit a high price of CNY 450.00 ($71.90) and a low price of CNY 445.00 ($71.10) per dry metric ton. The price of Chinese HRC held steady at CNY 2,490 ($397.84) per metric ton. For the fifth consecutive day, the price of Chinese coking coal held flat at CNY 1,080 ($172.56) per metric ton.
The 3-month price of the US HRC futures contract fell 1.7% to a 30-day low of $510.00 per short ton on Thursday. The US HRC futures contract spot price reached a 30-day low after decreasing 0.4% to $526.00 per short ton.