Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

ArcelorMittal to make big investment at Burns Harbor mill here

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The economy may still be in the doldrums but ArcelorMittal is going ahead anyway and making a $138 million capital investment in its U.S. flat carbon operations—including the one at Burns Harbor—to improve its position in specialty markets like mining, nuclear, and energy.

“These projects will improve the competitive position of ArcelorMittal USA by improving product quality and growing our leadership position in key markets,” ArcelorMittal USA President and CEO Michael Rippey said in a statement released on Wednesday. “This marks a significant investment in our USA operations, further exemplifying our commitment to the revitalization of American manufacturing and production of safe, sustainable steel.”

At Burns Harbor, the statement said, the 160-inch plate mill will add a new, high-capacity leveler as part of the company’s overall plate heat-treating strategy, which “aims to provide customers with the broadest range of high-quality, heat-treated products at increased productivity and lower costs.”

The leveler will be sized for high-strength quenched and tempered products in a broad spectrum of gauge, width, length, and yield strengths, “which will allow participation in long-term growth markets such as mining and nuclear,” the statement said.

“ArcelorMittal has developed a holistic approach to this heat-treat facility to improve flatness, surface, and presentation quality of its products,” the statement added. “Customers will also see improved delivery performance and process-flow enhancements at the Burns Harbor plate mill.”

Paul Gipson, president of United Steelworkers Local 6787 at Burns Harbor, welcomed the company’s decision to invest in the 160-inch plate mill. “It’s a good deal,” Gipson said. “It’s something that’s been needed in the 160. We need to repair the leveler, which enhances the heat-treating operation.”

“And once you improve the rolling end of the mill, you really need to take a look upstream at the steel-making part of it,” Gipson added. “You don’t want a Model T engine driving a Cadillac.”

Gipson noted that language in the union’s contract with ArcelorMittal will allow members of the bargaining unit to do “a large portion of the work” involved in the upgrade “side-by-side with the contractor.”

“The company couldn’t have made the announcement at a better time” either, Gipson said, as it sends a message “to Caterpillar, bridge projects, pipeline projects”—customers who in the struggling economy “want the best operation to give them the highest quality” product—that Burns Harbor’s 160-inch plate mill “will be a lot more efficient and versatile than a 110-inch or smaller mill.”

“It’s a plus, not only for the community but for our members,” Gipson said.

Other Investments

In addition, the company will be upgrading the 84-inch plate mill at Indiana Harbor “to meet demand in the energy pipeline and heavy-gauge water-transmission pipe market.” The upgrade will also “expand product capabilities to include high-strength hot-rolled steels in a greater size range to serve the heavy equipment markets, including construction and agriculture,” the statement said.

As part of the capital investment, two new haul trucks will be acquired for the Hibbing Taconite operation, a joint venture with U.S. Steel and Cliffs Natural Resources.

“Capital investment in equipment and technology is crucial to the long-term viability of the company and the job security of its workers,” USW International President Leo Gerard said.

“I praise the joint USW and management efforts that led to these facilities securing the capital investments, which will improve future prospects not only for members of the USW but for all stakeholders who have an interest in the success of ArcelorMittal.”

“I am pleased to see ArcelorMittal make this major investment in Northwest Indiana facilities, demonstrating its commitment to the continued vitality of steelmaking in the region,” said U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st. “These projects will provide greater job security to local steelworkers and solidify steel’s position at the heart of our local economy for years to come.”

 

 

Posted 3/11/2010

 

 

 

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