The last operational blast furnace at U.S. Steel's Granite City plant will continue to be idled indefinitely, according to an announcement by the company. This move extends what was initially expected to be a temporary closure. The company has also notified an additional 600 employees about potential job losses. However, according to a local union official, the plant is expected to continue operations with the existing workforce for now.
Uncertain Future of the Plant
The future of the plant has been hanging in the balance since last summer when U.S. Steel expressed intentions to sell a part of the facility to SunCoke Energy. This deal could lead to nearly 1,000 of the 1,450 jobs at the plant being cut. These discussions between the two companies are still ongoing. U.S. Steel is also reportedly considering the sale of the entire company.
Indefinite Closure and Potential Layoffs
Previously, one of the two blast furnaces at the site had already been shut down. The second furnace was closed this fall, with the expectation of reopening within six months. However, a layoff notice filed with local officials by the company indicates a longer closure period. This could potentially lead to permanent layoffs. U.S. Steel cites the need to balance production with customer demand, particularly in the face of slackening demand from the automotive industry. This industry was notably affected by the United Auto Workers strike, which ended in late October.
Continuation of Steel Rolling and Finishing Operations
Despite the indefinite idling of the blast furnace, U.S. Steel plans to continue its steel rolling and finishing operations at the site. These operations will utilize metal slabs sourced from other facilities. Granite City Mayor, Mike Parkinson, has voiced concerns over the maintenance of buildings and land that will be left vacant as parts of the plant close down.