Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) intends to take one of its blast furnaces in Gary offline next month for planned maintenance. That, as the company also reports an expected loss in the first quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report the work occurs as the automobile industry suspends production in response to COVID-19, reducing demand for steel.
U.S. Steel says the furnace will be offline for approximately seven weeks.
The Times reports U.S. Steel does not expect shelter-in-place orders to disrupt its production and believes its mills will stay open during the public health emergency.
The steel company says it is considered critical to the nation’s infrastructure, so it is not suspending work at the massive complex in Gary.
“The global Coronavirus outbreak is an unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation. It remains uncertain how long the situation will last and what the impacts will be for the full year. Given the significant uncertainty in the marketplace, we continue to monitor demand levels,” said a company statement.
Meanwhile, the company told investors it expects to lose 80 cents per share in the first quarter due to the uncertainty.
“We are focused on preserving cash and liquidity in the current market environment,” said U.S.S. Chief Executive Officer David Burritt. “We understand the situation remains fluid and we are preparing our operations to be flexible as circumstances may warrant. Our regional supply chain minimizes the risk of significant supply-chain related production disruptions and we continue to work with our customers to provide value-added steel solutions.”
U.S. Steel says it is allowing some employees to work at home when possible. It is also limiting outside access to the mills.