Esmark postpones restart at former RG site

NEW YORK — Esmark Steel Group LLC has postponed the restart of Ohio Cold Rolling Co. to an undetermined date, citing economic uncertainty and volatility in the steel market.

This is the second delay to be announced in two months. Last month, Esmark said that it intended to restart the former RG Steel LLC Yorkville facility in March or April instead of in January as initially planned (, Dec. 3).

The facility will provide cold-rolled substrate to Ohio Coatings Co., Esmark’s joint venture with Seoul, South Korea-based TCC Steel Co.

“We certainly understand that there has been speculation about the current status of the Yorkville plant. As we have said previously, there are a number of important factors that are in play at this time, some of which are out of our control,” an Esmark spokesman said in an emailed statement. “The current steel market conditions and economic uncertainty are two mitigating factors affecting our plans and activities.”

The Sewickley, Pa.-based company added that pre-existing environmental issues and an as-yet-unfinalized collective bargaining agreement were two other factors that had contributed to the delay.

In December, union workers at the facility ratified a four-year collective bargaining agreement after 81 percent of the United Steelworkers members voted in favor of the new contract (, Dec. 7).

“When combined with other factors such as ensuring Ohio Coatings Company’s commitments on product supply that Ohio Cold Rolling Co. could not fulfill, our late entry into the annual tin plate contract negotiations process and the effect of low-priced imports on the market, it’s reasonable to assume that these factors and market volatility all contributed to our current situation,” the spokesman added.

While no date has been set for the restart, Esmark said that it intends to move forward with the project.

“We are committed to restarting the Yorkville facility in an orderly process and, hopefully, in a less volatile steel market,” the spokesman said. “We just have to work through these short-term challenges.”

A union source said that they expected the company to provide a new restart date in the coming days.

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