Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg

U.S. Steel to Restart Idled Plant, Call Back 202 Employees

  • March restart planned for Keetac plant in Keewatin, Minnesota
  • Part of agreement to supply iron-ore pellets to third-parties

U.S. Steel Corp. said it will restart production at an idled plant and call back employees following an agreement to supply iron-ore pellets to third-party customers.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker said in a statement that it will restart the Keetac plant in Keewatin, Minnesota, more than 18 months after the company idled the facility amid rising steel imports and falling prices. The company will call back about 202 employees from layoff as a result of the restart, Erin DiPietro, a U.S. Steel spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

The move comes as the Bloomberg Americas Iron/Steel Index, which tracks 15 North and South American steelmakers, soared 86 percent in 2016, poised for the biggest annual rise since 2003. The measure climbed amid a 55 percent rally in prices for domestic hot-rolled coil and speculation that President-elect Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan will increase domestic demand.

“The third-party pellet sales include supplying U.S. Steel’s former Canadian operations,” DiPietro said. “Outside of the agreement with our former Canadian operations, we do not discuss our commercial relationships related to other potential third-party pellet sales.”

Employee callbacks will begin in early January, with production expected to begin in March, the company said in the statement. Shares of U.S. Steel closed at $34.87 in New York on Thursday and have more than quadrupled this year. The statement was released after the close of regular trading.

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