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Winter storm puts some operations on ice

Keywords: Tags  winter storm, steel production, transport, rebar mill, natural gas, scrap flows, Novelis, barge traffic port closures

NEW YORK — A major winter storm has caused metal production outages, port closures and a reported overall reduction in trading activity across the South and Midwest.

While the National Weather Service advised that wintry precipitation was expected to end across the southeastern United States on Jan. 29, winter weather advisories remained in effect for portions of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, while hard freeze warnings also remained in effect for the lower Mississippi Valley and Southeast.

Energy curtailments have forced some producers, such as Steel Dynamics Inc., to scale back or alter their production schedules as supply becomes strained and priority is given to residential customers (, Jan. 29).

One rebar mill in the Ohio Valley told AMM that it was permitted to resume natural gas consumption on the morning of Jan. 29, having been down for several days at the request of its energy supplier. A source at the company estimated that they had lost roughly one-fourth of production for January as a result of the idling.

Scrap suppliers and consumers told AMM that flows had been impacted by the difficult weather, while one steel mill in the Northeast has reportedly ceased accepting new scrap deliveries.

Road and rail traffic remain hampered by the icy conditions, causing extensive delays.

“We haven’t been able to get rail service since last weekend and our trucks are frozen. No one has time to talk because we are so far behind,” a spokeswoman for ADS Logistics Co. LLC’s Roll & Hold Division, Portage, Ind., told AMM.

“The bigger factor is snow storms during rush hour. That slows us up quite a bit. When it snows from 4 to 9 a.m., the roads are in terrible conditions all day. It makes our range of delivery (shorten to) within a couple miles (and) puts us a day behind,” said Luke Harned, general manager of Coon Rapids, Minn.-based aluminum distributor Erickson Metals of Minnesota Inc.

Some mills, like Outokumpu Stainless USA LLC’s Calvert melt shop, decided to temporarily suspended operations Jan. 29 following advice to stay off the roadways (, Jan. 29).

An aluminum trader told AMM that these delays are causing trucking costs to spike, with freight rates reportedly doubling on some routes.

Meanwhile, closures were in effect at the Port of Mobile, the Port of Charleston and the Port of South Louisiana Jan. 29, while the Port of New Orleans was running on an adjusted operations schedule.

Barge traffic has also been impacted by closures and delays along the Mississippi, Illinois and Arkansas Rivers.

“We know a lot of producers are having problems getting their barges to the Chicago area,” one ferroalloys trader said.

Road traffic also came to a standstill around Atlanta, prompting Novelis Inc. to close its corporate offices Jan. 29, a spokeswoman for the company told AMM.

“The entire city of Atlanta is paralyzed with the storm we had yesterday,” she said via e-mail, adding that all other plant locations were “business as usual.”

Michael Cowden, Corinna Petry, Nathan Laliberte and Lisa Gordon contributed to this article.

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