CHICAGO ArcelorMittal SA has laid off some 30 employees at its Georgetown, S.C., wire rod mill, in part because of imports, the company told AMM Monday.
The Luxembourg-based steelmaker has also reduced the Georgetown facility from a three-crew operation to one staffed by only two crews, a spokeswoman said via e-mail.
The moves come "in response to market conditions" she said, adding that ArcelorMittal is also "being forced to respond to the impact that wire rod imports are having" on the Georgetown mill, the companys primary wire rod production facility in the United States.
But ArcelorMittal is "carefully monitoring the situation and anticipates to returning to a three-crew operation when market conditions can sustain full operations," she added.
U.S. imports of wire rod totaled 70,188 tonnes in September, up 11.1 percent from 63,175 tonnes in August and 19.7 percent higher than the 58,640 tonnes imported in September 2011, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
Market sources have told AMM that large amounts of wire rod, particularly from China, are expected to arrive at U.S. ports in late 2012 and early 2013 (amm.com, Sept. 19). To date, that material hasnt appeared in government records, with China shipping only 16.3 tonnes of wire rod to the United States in September, the most recent data available. Thats down sharply from 6,975 tonnes in August. In September, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom were the biggest sources of imported wire rod.
ArcelorMittals Georgetown facility makes high-carbon, low-carbon and alloy wire rods, and has the capacity to produce 750,000 tons per year, according to the 2012 Association for Iron and Steel Technology directory. The facility, which employs some 345 workers, serves the construction, automotive, industrial and converter markets and is located near a deepwater seaport.