By upgrading iron ore capabilities in Minnesota and repurposing blast furnaces at Granite City Works in Illinois with SunCoke Energy, the Company aims to expand its domestic, low-cost iron ore advantage
United States Steel Corporation (NYSE: X) ("U. S. Steel") announced today it would expand its low-cost iron ore competitive advantage and increase its self-sufficiency by supplying domestic feedstock to its growing fleet of electric arc furnaces (EAFs). The Company expects related improvements to its capital and carbon intensity and financial performance from anticipated future internal and external EAF demand.
New Production of Direct Reduced (DR)-grade Pellets
U. S. Steel plans to break ground in Fall 2022 at one of its two Minnesota Ore Operations facilities, Keetac or Minntac, to construct a system dedicated to producing DR-grade pellets. This will enable one of the Company’s existing pelletizing plants to not only create DR-grade pellets but also maintain the optionality to continue producing blast furnace-grade pellets.
The Company does not expect the approximately $150 million DR-grade pellet investment to change the 2022 capital spending budget and will continue to prudently manage future capex in-line with its strategic priorities.
DR-grade pellets are a critical feedstock for ironmaking in a direct reduced iron (DRI) or hot briquetted iron (HBI) process that ultimately supplies EAF steelmaking. Upon completion, the Company would have the option to sell the new pellets to third-party DRI / HBI producers or use them to feed a potential future DRI or HBI facility of its own. The DR-grade pellets produced would be a new product line for U. S. Steel. The investment and expected timeline are subject to state and local support and receipt of regulatory permitting.
Non-Binding Letter of Intent: Progressing towards an agreement for U. S. Steel to supply SunCoke with iron ore to produce pig iron
U. S. Steel signed a Non-Binding Letter of Intent with SunCoke Energy, Inc., a raw material processing and handling company, setting forth the preliminary terms for a potential arrangement under which SunCoke would acquire the two blast furnaces at Granite City Works and build a 2 million ton granulated pig iron production facility. Upon completion of the proposed facility, SunCoke would supply U. S. Steel access to 100% of the pig iron production for the next ten years.
U. S. Steel intends to supply the needed iron ore to be used to produce the pig iron. Because the iron ore would come from U. S. Steel’s own mines, the Company would realize a significant cost advantage. This pig iron could be used by EAFs and is expected to supply U. S. Steel’s growing fleet of EAFs.
The proposed transaction is contingent upon several conditions, including the negotiation and execution of a definitive agreement, approval by the U. S. Steel Board of Directors, and receipt of all appropriate regulatory approvals. There can be no assurance as to the final terms of the proposed transaction, that the conditions will be satisfied, or that the proposed transaction will be completed.
SunCoke would be leading the efforts in construction of the new facility and repurposing of the blast furnaces. The contemplated pig iron production facility’s permitting and construction is expected to last approximately two years. This transaction is not expected to impact immediate staffing levels at Granite City Works.
Since 2009, SunCoke has operated a coke making facility at Granite City Works, supplying a key ingredient in blast furnace steelmaking.
Advancing U. S. Steel’s Metallics Strategy to Support a Best for All® Future
"Our conviction remains that steel mined, melted, and made in America is vital to our national and economic security," said David B. Burritt, President & CEO of U. S. Steel. "We are strategically investing in our raw materials that will feed the advanced steel mills of today and tomorrow, making us increasingly self-sufficient. It’s another way that we’re supporting domestic manufacturing, simplifying complex global supply chains, addressing the sustainability demands of our customers, and ultimately creating profitable steel solutions for people and the planet."
U. S. Steel recently announced an investment in a pig iron caster at Gary Works in Indiana. The approximately $60 million investment will produce up to 500,000 tons of pig iron annually and provide a critical raw material input for the Company’s EAFs. Once complete, the Gary pig iron project is expected to provide nearly 50% of Big River Steel’s ore-based metallics needs, contribute over $30 million of run-rate enterprise EBITDA benefits and deliver an internal rate of return in excess of 30%. Pig iron production at Gary Works should begin in the first half of 2023.
Cautionary Language on Forward-Looking Statements:
This release contains information that may constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. We intend the forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements in those sections. Generally, we have identified such forward-looking statements by using the words "believe," "expect," "intend," "estimate," "anticipate," "project," "target," "forecast," "aim," "should," "plan," "goal," "future," "will," "may" and similar expressions or by using future dates in connection with any discussion of, among other things, the construction or operation of new or existing facilities, operating performance, trends, events or developments that we expect or anticipate will occur in the future, statements relating to volume changes, share of sales and earnings per share changes, anticipated cost savings, statements regarding our future strategies, products and innovations, changes in global supply and demand conditions and prices for our products, statements regarding our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and statements expressing general views about future operating results. However, the absence of these words or similar expressions does not mean that a statement is not forward-looking. Forward-looking statements are not historical facts, but instead represent only the Company's beliefs regarding future events, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and outside of the Company's control. It is possible that the Company's actual results may differ, possibly materially, from the anticipated results indicated in these forward-looking statements. Management believes that these forward-looking statements are reasonable as of the time made. However, caution should be taken not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements because such statements speak only as of the date when made. Our Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. In addition, forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from our Company's historical experience and our present expectations or projections. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the risks and uncertainties described in "Item 1A. Risk Factors" in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, and those described from time to time in our reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
References to "we," "us," "our," the "Company" and "U. S. Steel" refer to United States Steel Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise indicated by the context, and references to "Big River Steel" refer to Big River Steel Holdings LLC and its direct and indirect subsidiaries unless otherwise indicated by the context.
Founded in 1901, United States Steel Corporation is a leading steel producer. With an unwavering focus on safety, the Company’s customer-centric Best for All® strategy is advancing a more secure, sustainable future for U. S. Steel and its stakeholders. With a renewed emphasis on innovation, U. S. Steel serves the automotive, construction, appliance, energy, containers, and packaging industries with high value-added steel products such as U. S. Steel’s proprietary XG3™ advanced high-strength steel. The Company also maintains competitively advantaged iron ore production and has an annual raw steelmaking capability of 22.4 million net tons. U. S. Steel is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with world-class operations across the United States and in Central Europe. For more information, please visit www.ussteel.com.