Steel crazy after all these years, United States Steel is North America's largest integrated steelmaker and the world's eighth-largest steel producer. The company operates mills throughout the Midwest in the US; in Ontario, Canada; and in Slovakia. U.S. Steel makes a wide range of flat-rolled and tubular steel products, and its annual production capacity is about 30 million net tons of raw steel. Its customers are primarily in the automotive, appliance, construction, oil and gas, and petrochemical industries. In addition, U.S. Steel mines iron ore and procures coke, which provide the primary raw materials used in steelmaking. It is also engaged in railroad and barge operations and real estate.
In the US, the company holds integrated steel plants, including Gary Works, East Chicago Tin, and Midwest Plant, all in Indiana. It also holds the Great Lakes Works in Michigan, Mon Valley Works and Fairless Plant in Pennslvania, Granite City Works in Illinois, and Fairfield Works in Alabama.
U.S. Steel's tubular steel operations, which serve the energy industry primarily, provide both seamless and electric resistance welded (ERW) products, commonly called oil country tubular goods (OCTG).
Its U.S. Steel Canada segment maintains the company's two facilities in Ontario, the Lake Erie Works and the Hamilton Works. Together, the plants have an annual capacity of 4.9 million tons.
The company also participates in joint ventures with a number of its industry competitors. They include the world's #1 steelmaker ArcelorMittal, Japanese producer Kobe Steel, South Korean giant POSCO, Russian metals company Severstal, and US steel service center Worthington Industries.
In 2011 the company posted net sales of $19.9 billion, compared to $17.4 billion in 2010. Higher averaged realized prices and improved economic conditions helped drive sales for the company's flat-rolled products segment. Favorable foreign currency translation effects in Europe kept prices high and offset softened demand. An improved energy market also drove sales for the company's tubular operations. However, increased operating costs, a loss in commercial land sales, and an $18 million environmental remediation charge were among factors contributing to a net loss of $53 million in 2011. That year the company also averaged 77% of its production capability and produced 18.6 million tons of raw steel, which edged over its 76% average in 2010, and notably improved over its 48% average in 2009.
U.S. Steel made a number of acquisitions in the middle of the last decade, building up its capacity significantly. But as the global economic nightmare hit several of its target markets especially hard -- the automotive and construction industries, for example -- U.S. Steel severely curtailed production. A return to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and more drilling in shale formations now help drive sales for the company's tubular operations. The recovery of the automotive industry in the US has also helped improve demand, although the construction industry remains challenging. The ongoing Eurozone debt crisis also continues to impact the company's operations in Central Europe.
To contend with its challenges, U.S. Steel focuses on meeting its customers' needs and requirements by developing new steel products and uses. In depressed markets, it concentrates production at certain plants and idles production at others, in response to customer demand. It continues to grow organically and invest in key projects, while reducing its reliance on coke for steelmaking by applying advanced technologies, upgrading its coke facilities, and using natural gas and pulverized coal in its operations.
Recent investments include building an environmentally advanced battery at the Mon Valley Works' Clairton Plant in Pennsylvania, which will have a capacity of 960,000 tons per year, and a carbon alloy plant at Gary Works in Indiana that will be able to produce a coke substitute and have a capacity of 500,000 tons per year. In Europe the company has completed blast furnace coal injection facilities that use pulverized coal, a lower cost source of carbon than coke.
In 2012 the company exited its Serbia business (U.S. Steel Serbia) after the European economy slid significantly, and weak demand caused the company to lose more than $200 million from its Serbian operations in 2011. U.S. Steel sold the segment to the Serbian government for only $1. U.S. Steel Serbia was part of the company's U.S. Steel Europe. The other segment, U.S. Steel Kosice in Slovakia, produces sheet steel used by the automotive and other industries, and continues to contribute to the company's annual production. Its plant in Kosice has an annual capacity of 5 million tons.
In 2011 the company sold Oklahoma-based subsidiary Steel Coil Services to Macsteel Service Centers USA. – less