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United States Steel to Close Fairfield Works Blast Furnace

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1100 workers will lose their jobs; imports blamed for the closure

By Frederick H. Lowe

United States Corp. announced on Monday that it is closing the blast furnace and associated steelmaking operations at its Fairfield Works in Fairfield, Alabama, resulting in 1,100 of the mill’s 2,000 workers losing their jobs.

In addition to the blast furnace, the steel plant is closing most of its flat-rolled finishing operations.

United States Steel will close its Fairfield Works Blast Furnace
United States Steel will close its Fairfield Works Blast Furnace

“We have determined that the permanent shut-down of the Fairfield Works blast furnace, steelmaking and most of the finishing operations is necessary to improve the overall efficiency and cost structure of our flat-rolled segment,” Mario Longhi, president and CEO of U.S. Steel, said in a statement. United States Steel, which is based in Pittsburgh, has lost money five of the last six years.

The blast furnace and associated steelmaking operations will be idled and will be permanently closed on or after November 17th.

U.S. Steel has been building an electric arc furnace, which makes steel out of scrap metal instead of iron ore and coal used in a blast furnace.

The electric arc furnace can operate with fewer workers and is much easier to stop and restart, the United Steelworkers said in a statement.

Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers union, which represents steel workers in Fairfield, blamed the closure on imports.

“In particular, China has repeatedly violated international trade rules to bolster its state-owned industry while dumping its products into our market,” Gerard said. “And American workers have already paid the price.”

Fairfield started making steel in 1917, and it is one of U.S. Steel’s oldest mills.

 

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