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Old Posted Oct 14, 2008, 9:07 PM
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U.S. Steel Canada plans Hamilton blast furnace shutdown

October 14, 2008
By Naomi Powell, The Hamilton Spectator

U.S. Steel Canada is planning to shut down its Hamilton blast furnace for up to eight weeks as the global market meltdown takes its toll on the steel sector.

A shutdown at the former Stelco would likely begin at the end of the month, says a source familiar with the plans.

The move comes as steelmakers across the globe face plunging demand from customers badly battered by the credit crisis.

Many large customers have been unable to borrow the money they need to buy steel. Others are struggling to contend with a slowing economy that has shrunk demand for everything from construction to appliances and cars.

Last month, ArcelorMittal Dofasco announced plans to scale back production in the second half of the year with CEO Juergen Schachler citing "tough economic times and unexpected weakness in the North American manufacturing sector."

Parent company ArcelorMittal has said it will slash production by 15 per cent across its global operations.

And last week, Russian steel firm OAO Severstal announced plans to slash its October production by 25 per cent at its Russian plant and 30 per cent at its operations in the United States and Italy.

Trevor Harris, spokesperson for U.S. Steel Canada, declined to comment on potential production cuts. He said operational changes would be discussed in the company’s quarterly earnings call, scheduled for Oct. 26.

“As we’ve said in the past, we will adjust production up and down to keep pace with customer orders,” Harris said.

It is unclear whether the cuts would result in layoffs. The former Stelco employs about 1,700 hourly workers at its Hamilton plant.

ArcelorMittal Dofasco has said it will cut back on overtime and reduce its casual employee base as it slows production.
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