Monday, U.S. Steel announced that it will restart construction of an electric arc furnace steelmaking plant at its Fairfield Works facility in Jefferson County. The new electric arc furnace replaces the aging blast furnace that is already there.
Construction will begin immediately; and the furnace will come online in the second half of 2020. The Alabama Department of Transportation is expected to be finished replacing I-20/59 through the middle of Birmingham by then.
“We are pleased to announce the achievement of the market and performance stage gates required to restart our Tubular Segment EAF,” said U.S. Steel President and CEO David B. Burritt. “We are committed to investing in the sustainable steel technology required to be a value-added tubular solutions provider for our customers,”
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-Selma) applauded the decision to restart the project.
“My top priority in Congress has always been to promote good, high-paying jobs to Alabama’s 7th District,” Representative Sewell said. “Since U.S. Steel’s Fairfield plant downsized in 2015, I have worked closely with U.S. Steel and the Fairfield community to get our steelworkers back to work. As a strong supporter of American-made steel, I am thrilled that U.S. Steel will add 150 full-time jobs at Fairfield Works.”
“Manufacturing facilities like Fairfield Works are economic pillars in our community,” Rep. Sewell stated.
“While this expansion is a move in the right direction, Congress must do more to create jobs and strengthen manufacturing in states like Alabama. I look forward to continue working with steelworkers and U.S. Steel to promote growth and economic opportunity in Alabama’s 7th District and across our state.”
U.S. Steel had started the new furnace; but halted the project due to poor conditions in the global steel market and cheap Chinese steel being dumped in the United States. President Donald J. Trump has made a point of helping the domestic steel and aluminum manufacturers. The President has imposed a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel from countries, including China, that he feels are dumping steel in the American market. The decision has been highly unpopular with American automakers who claim that it means that they pay more for steel; but because they pay more for steel, domestic steelmakers have seen booming demand for their product.
U.S. Steel announced the electric arc furnace on March 2015 and a $277 million investment in the plant. On December 21, 2015 U.S. Steel announced that they were halting the project. U.S. Steel announced they were closing much of the Fairfield facility in 2015 and were shutting down the blast furnace.
The company credited Donald Trump’s policies on steel for being part of the reason that they were able to restart the electric arc furnace.
The new electric arc furnace will create 150 new full time jobs. Finishing the furnace will cost $215 million.
The Birmingham Business Journal credits economic incentives being offered by the state of Alabama and Jefferson County for helping lure the company into making the investment.
Congresswoman Sewell represents the Seventh Congressional District.
(Original reporting by the Birmingham Business Journal and Market Watch contributed to this report.)