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ArcelorMittal ramping up BF at Indiana Harbor

Keywords: Tags  steel, ArcelorMittal SA, quaterly results, North American operations, ramp-up, blast furnace, Louis L. Schorsh

CHICAGO — ArcelorMittal SA is ramping up production at the No. 7 blast furnace at its Indiana Harbor complex in East Chicago, Ind., after a $70-million planned maintenance outage, a company executive said.

The Luxembourg-based steelmaker brought the furnace—the largest in the Western Hemisphere—online roughly one week earlier than expected after "major repairs" and is roughly halfway through the ramp-up process, Louis L. Schorsch, chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal’s Americas division, said during a quarterly earnings conference call Aug. 1.

"It’s hard to overstate the importance of this No. 7 furnace to us. And it’s been limping along for the last year and a half or so," Schorsch said, noting that the furnace also is the steelmaker’s largest.

Once the ramp-up is complete, the Indiana Harbor facility’s hot metal production should increase by about 1,000 tons per day from before the outage, he said.

Scheduled maintenance on the No. 7 blast furnace started June 1 and was completed July 21, more than a week ahead of schedule, a company spokeswoman told AMM Aug 1. The furnace was built in 1980 and last relined in 2003, she said.

While the Indiana Harbor outage was planned, an outage at ArcelorMittal’s C-5 blast furnace in Cleveland was not and cost about $30 million to repair, Schorsch said. The Cleveland outage was related to difficult winter weather "but should have been avoided," he said.

ArcelorMittal idled the C-5 furnace in Cleveland after a taphole incident (, May 14).

But ArcelorMittal’s North American operations are now in better shape than they have been in years due to the recent repairs, something that should benefit the steelmaker in the second half of 2014, Schorsch said.

Indiana Harbor sports raw steelmaking capacity of 9.5 million tons annually, according to ArcelorMittal’s website.

Also on the operations front, AM/NS Calvert (Ala.) LLC is running at 83-percent capacity utilization, ArcelorMittal executives said. That should benefit the steelmaker’s Tubarão operations in Brazil, which provide slabs to the plant, they said.

ArcelorMittal also will source slabs for AM/NS Calvert from its operations in Mexico, Schorsch said. The mix of slabs is still being fined-tuned because Tubarão provides slabs better-suited for automotive steels, while its Mexican operations make slabs ideal for the energy sector—and both markets are being targeted by AM/NS Calvert, he said.

AM/NS Calvert is producing at a roughly 30-percent higher rate than it was a year ago, which means the facility’s carbon steel production should increase 800,000 to 900,000 tons from last year’s total, ArcelorMittal chief financial officer Aditya Mittal said.

AM/NS Calvert has capacity to process 5.3 million tons of flat-rolled carbon steel products annually, according to ArcelorMittal’s website. ArcelorMittal and Tokyo-based Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. acquired Essen, Germany-based ThyssenKrupp AG’s former facility in Calvert, Ala., in February for $1.55 billion and renamed it AM/NS Calvert (, Feb. 28).

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