BURNS HARBOR - ArcelorMittal is looking to improve a key facility at its Burns Harbor steel mill. The Luxembourg-based steelmaker says it is investing nearly $20 million to rebuild the No. 2 coke battery, with the main area of concern being much-needed roof repairs.

The battery was constructed in 1974 last received a rebuild in 1994. Since then, it has produced more than 900,000 tons of coke for the two blast furnaces at ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor. Coke is a purified form of coal that is used in the steelmaking process. 

Nagendra Singh, process manager in operations technology for the coke plant at ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor, says the roof repairs "are essential in maintaining the highest level of productivity and potentially expanding its life beyond the expected 50-year life cycle."

The project was approved last May and Singh says the company decided to complete the repairs over five years in order to keep the battery at full production. He says the effort would mitigate the need to purchase expensive coke on the spot market, which would increase costs by up to $50 million. 

The project is expected to be complete on-time and within budget by 2022.