In the wake of U.S. Steel’s announcment to end steel production at the Hamilton works, there is a growing list of questions.
The news of the steelmaker’s decommissioning of the iconic blast furnance surprised some, and a list of questions started almost immediately.
Hamilton’s Economic Development Director Neil Everson told CHML’s Bill Kelly Show, says one of the questions he has is what plan, if any, does U.S. Steel have for the plant?
Everson says that is just one of a dozen questions that the city would like answers to, adding they don’t have as much information as they would like right now.
There are also questions about the tax implications for the city from the furnaces being shuttered.
Everson says his team is trying to find answers to that issue as well.
But as for the impact on Hamilton’s economy, Everson says the game plan for the last decade has been “difersification,” enabling the city to absorb this type of plant closing.
U.S. Steel sent some tremors through the community late Wednesday.
Chief Executive Mario Longhi, on a call with analysts and investors, announced the steelmaker will permanently shut down iron and steelmaking operations in Hamilton at the end of this year.
The announcement does not affect U.S. Steel’s other Hamilton operations, including the coke ovens, galvanizing line, cold mill or zinc-coating line.
Current unionized employees are also not affected, since the company has not made steel in Hamilton for three years.
47 non-unionized employees will be affected.
The announcement follows the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker’s third-quarter results that showed a loss of $1.79 billion, including a previously announced accounting charge.
The Hamilton announcement, the shutdown of two old coke batteries in Gary, Indiana, and other moves will save the company $75 million in costs annually.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina has issued a statement regarding U.S. Steel permanently shutting down the blast furnace.
This announcement by U. S. Steel though unfortunate was not completely unexpected based on the reduced operations at Hilton Works. At this time, the city has incomplete information and the absence of hard facts on which to base a comprehensive response to this decision. It is for this reason, that I am requesting a face-to-face meeting with senior officials of US Steel as soon as possible at their headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
My first concern as Mayor is for the job security of local US Steel workers and the sustainability of pensions for our residents. Hamilton continues to remain the steel-making capitol of Canada with U. S. Steel’s continuing operations, and the Arcelor-Mittal Dofasco complex. There are only 30 blast furnaces still operating in North America and until today’s announcement 4 of them were located in Hamilton. Our city continues to be responsible for the production of one-third of Canadian steel along with millions of dollars of related products such as sheet steel for the automotive industry.
Hamilton’s economic development efforts over the past decade has resulted in our current ranking as having the most diversified economy in the country. The City of Hamilton deliberately chose this strategy to be able to sustain our growth and absorb the shocks of economic downturns and plant downsizing and closures.