United States Steel has announced plans to restart Alabama's new smelting furnace, with steel production expected to increase by 1.6 million tons by 2020.
With import tariffs pushing up steel prices, U.S. steel mills, such as Nucor and Steel Dynamics, have planned to build or restart steelmaking plants. It is estimated that U.S. steel-making capacity will increase by more than 10 million tons in the next three years. Fairfield, near Birmingham, Alabama, is expected to join production by the end of 2020. U.S. Steel said it plans to spend about $215 million to upgrade its equipment and employ 150 more full-time employees.
U.S. Steel closed its 100-year Feldfield blast furnace in 2015, when it planned to build an electric arc furnace to replace it. But by the end of 2015, due to the collapse of oil prices, demand for oil wells and pipelines had fallen sharply, leading to the halt of the electric arc furnace plan. This is the second large-scale expansion of steel production in the United States since the implementation of the tariff policy. Last year, the company restarted two blast furnaces at St. Louis Steel Works, which together produced 2.8 million tons of steel annually.