Trump's tariff leads U.S. Steel to reopen big steelmaking facility

Operations at U.S. Steel
Source: United States Steel Corporation
Operations at U.S. Steel

President Donald J. Trump's plan to impose tariffs on foreign steel has led Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp. to reopen a blast furnace and steelmaking at a big plant in Illinois, two and a half years after they were idled.

Granite City Works will have one of its two blast furnaces and its steelmaking restarted, and about 500 employees will be brought back to work starting this month, U.S. Steel announced Wednesday.

U.S. Steel said the additional steelmaking capacity will help meet demand from the move by the Trump administration to impose a 25 percent tax on foreign-made steel that U.S. Steel, United Steelworkers and others say have been choking the domestic steel industry.

More from Pittsburgh Business Journal:
Pitt to launch innovation lab, makerspace in Homewood
URA to invest in fund focused on women-led startups
'Shark Tank' to hold its first casting call in Pittsburgh

"The president's strong leadership is needed to begin to level the playing field so companies like ours can compete, win and create jobs that support our employees and the communities in which we operate as well as strengthen our national and economic security," U.S. Steel CEO David B. Burritt said in a statement.

Parts of the Granite City Works were idled in November 2015 and January 2016, although a hot strip mill there was restarted in February 2017. Other steelmaking — pickle line, cold mill and finishing lines — remained in operation.

The restart of the one blast furnace will likely take about four months; the other blast furnace will stay idled. It wasn't immediately clear how much it would cost to restart the blast furnace. Burritt thanked the United Steelworkers for their efforts.

"We've worked closely and cooperatively with leadership of the United Steelworkers to develop a plan that will help us work through the restart process in the safest, most efficient manner possible while enabling longer-term collaboration designed to improve the plant's competitiveness," Burritt said.