U.S. Steel Corp. opened May 2 with an announcement that it would invest more than $1 billion to upgrade its steelmaking capabilities in Pennsylvania and "secure the future for a new generation of steelworkers," according to CEO David B. Burritt.
Hours later, the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker concluded the day by reporting 2019 first-quarter financials that showed net earnings of $54 million, compared with $18 million one year ago, on sales of $3.5 billion, up 11% from the previous year. U.S. Steel has scheduled an earnings call for Friday morning.
Thursday also saw President Donald Trump point to U.S. Steel's investment as proof that steel tariffs are working. In a Thursday tweet he said, "Congrats to @U_S_Steel for investing $1+ BILLION in America's most INNOVATIVE steel mill. 232 Tariffs make Pennsylvania and USA more prosperous/secure by bringing Steel and Aluminum industries BACK. Tariffs are working."
U.S. Steel's $1.2 billion capital investment is expansive. The manufacturer said it would construct a new endless casting and rolling facility at its Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock, Pa., while a new cogeneration facility would be built at its Clairton Plant in Clairton, Pa. Both sites are part of the company's Mon Valley Works.
Described by the company as state-of-the-art technology, the endless casting and rolling technology combines thin slab casting and hot rolled band production into one continuous process. The new facility will replace existing traditional slab caster and hot strip mill facilities at the Mon Valley Works.
U.S. Steel said the technology upgrade would, among other benefits, increase the steelmaker's ability to serve new markets and improve environmental performance. Mon Valley Works also would become the primary source for the substrate for production of U.S. Steel's advanced high strength steel. The new investment will not increase the company's steelmaking capacity.
The United Steelworkers union welcomed the investment news. "These investments will provide much-needed job security for current employees and future generations of Steelworkers at this historic and soon-to-be much more modern integrated steelmaking complex," USW International President Leo Gerard said in a statement.
The new cogeneration facility will convert a portion of the coke oven gas generated at U.S. Steel's Clairton site to electricity to power facilities across its Mon Valley operations.
U.S. Steel also outlined significant environmental benefits of its investment, including an approximate 50% reduction in sulfur dioxide and 60% drop in particulate matter.
Thursday's announcement is the latest update to increasing operations by U.S. Steel. In February, for example, the steelmaker announced it restarted an electric-weld pipe mill in Texas that had been shut down in 2016 due to challenging market conditions. The restart process is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2019.
First coil production related to the Mon Valley investment is expected in 2022.