Finger-Crossing Time

In their latest quarterly conference calls with analysts and investors, executives from the industry’s leading mills reported universally strong second-quarter results. But will that momentum carry over
into the third-quarter and beyond?
By the staff of Metal Center News

AK Steel
Second-Quarter Sales Double to Profitable Level

AK Steel’s second-quarter sales were double those of 2009, allowing the Ohio steelmaker to move from a quarterly loss to profitability. The West Chester, Ohio-based steel company reported a net income of $26.7 million in the second quarter, a dramatic improvement from the $47.2 million loss posted during the same time period last year. AK has rehired 99 percent of the employees laid off during last year’s recession.

The company’s second-quarter sales totaled $1.6 billion compared to net sales of $793 million during the second quarter of 2009. Second-quarter shipments of 1.4 million tons were also significantly higher than the 740,600 tons shipped during last year’s second quarter. The average selling price increased 9 percent to $1,101 per ton.

“AK Steel’s second-quarter 2010 results represent another quarter of solid progress in this year of economic recovery for our company,” James L. Wainscott, chairman, president and CEO, told investors and analysts during the company’s quarterly conference call. “Despite the impact of significantly increased costs for iron ore, AK Steel recorded an excellent second-quarter performance.”

For the first six months of 2010, the company reported net income of $28.6 million, up from a net loss for the corresponding 2009 period of $120.6 million. 

First-half 2010 sales were $3.0 billion, compared to $1.7 billion million in the first-half of 2009. Shipments for the first-half of 2010 were 2.8 million tons, up from 1.5 million tons in the first-half of 2009. 

During the quarter, the company and the industry had to deal with significantly higher iron ore prices. In the absence of a global benchmark price for 2010 iron ore purchases, AK Steel assumed a 65 percent increase from the 2009 benchmark. The company had assumed a 30 percent increase in the first quarter.

“We have no way of knowing when or if global iron ore benchmark pricing will be established for 2010, nor do we know if the benchmark will be for an annual or for a quarterly basis,” Wainscott said. “What we do know is in light of diminished demand for iron ore for the last three months, spot market prices for iron ore have been steadily declining.”

AK Steel said it expects shipments in the third quarter of 2010 to be approximately 3 percent higher than its second-quarter 2010 shipments. The company anticipates that its average per ton selling price will be about 5 percent lower.   

“The real challenge for us this quarter is the average selling price decline, which is 5 percent or $50 per ton. A number of actions are contributing to the decline,” Wainscott said, “carbon steel spot market prices have eroded, scrap prices have fallen and we’ve entered the traditional seasonal slowdown.”

The company estimates its second-quarter capacity utilization rates were 85 to 90 percent, or double last year’s second quarter. The company expects the operating rate for the third quarter to fall between 80 and 85 percent.

Wainscott said AK Steel is ready for the competition from Thyssen
Krupp’s new Alabama mill—even if it would prefer to go without it. “The fact of the matter is the last thing the market needs at this stage of an economic recovery is more capacity,” Wainscott said.

Aluminum Maker Back in the Black

Alcoa returned to profitability during the second quarter, posting net income of $137 million during the three months. The New York-based aluminum company had reported a loss of $194 million during the first quarter.

The profitable quarter was Alcoa’s first since the third quarter of 2009 and its most profitable three months since reporting net income of $268 million in the third quarter of 2008.

Earnings for the second quarter improved $331 million sequentially as stronger volumes, productivity improve-
ments, favorable currency and lower energy costs more than offset slightly lower average realized metal prices, which declined $22 a metric ton to an average of $2,309 a ton in the quarter, Alcoa officials said.

Revenues for the quarter were $5.2 billion, a 6 percent increase from the first quarter of 2010, driven by a 4 percent increase in aluminum shipments and a 1 percent increase in third-party prices for alumina, partially offset by a 1 percent decrease in realized prices for aluminum. In many markets the company saw strong revenue growth from the previous quarter, including packaging, up 17 percent; commercial transportation, up 1 percent; building and construction, up 9 percent; and distribution, up 5 percent. Revenues increased 22 percent from $4.2 billion in the second quarter of 2009.

“We improved profits and revenues and maintained our solid cash position,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa chairman and CEO. “The top- and bottom-line growth was driven by higher volumes from stronger end markets and continued gains from our productivity programs. Based on this improved end-market demand, we are raising our projection for aluminum consumption from 10 percent to 12 percent this year.”

Among its primary segments, Alcoa reported after-tax operating income of $71 million in its flat-rolled products segment, an increase of $41 million from the first quarter. Higher volumes in Russia, China and North America, and continued productivity gains, were partially offset by lower prices.

In its engineered products and solutions segment, after tax operating income was $107 million, up 32 percent, while sales rose 4 percent. Higher volumes in the aerospace, building and construction and commercial vehicle markets, along with strong productivity gains, drove the increase.

“Prospects for Alcoa and aluminum continue to be excellent,” Kleinfeld said. “Aluminum is traditionally a backbone of growing economies and is penetrating new applications every day. Alcoa has enviable positions in bauxite, alumina and aluminum and our investments will move us further down the cost curve. Meanwhile, our mid- and downstream businesses continue to improve margins.”

‘2010’s a Transition Year to Resumption of Growth’

Allegheny Technologies Inc., Pittsburgh, reported net income for second-quarter 2010 of $36.4 million on sales of $1.05 billion. This compares favorably to a net loss of $13.4 million on sales of $710 million in second-quarter 2009.

For the six months ended June 30, net income was $54.6 million on sales of $1.95 billion. This is up from a net loss of $7.5 million on sales of $1.54 billion for the first half of 2009.

“Our markets continued to improve in the second quarter, and we still see 2010 as a transition year to the resumption of strong secular growth in our key global markets,” said L. Patrick Hassey, chairman, president and CEO. “Second-quarter shipments of most of our products reached the highest levels in the last six quarters. Sales improved 48 percent compared to second-quarter 2009 and 17 percent compared to first-quarter 2010. Operating profit improved 118 percent compared to second-quarter 2009 and 33 percent from first-quarter 2010.

Hassey said key global markets, namely aerospace and defense, oil and gas, chemical process, electrical energy and medical, represented nearly 70 percent of second-quarter sales. Demand from the aerospace market, particularly for jet engines, continued to improve, while demand from other key markets remained good.

In Allegheny’s High Performance Metals segment, shipments of titanium and titanium alloys increased 17 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010. Shipments of nickel-based and specialty alloys increased 13 percent, primarily due to improved demand from the jet engine supply chain and the oil and gas market. Shipments of exotic alloys improved 17 percent from the first quarter due to better demand from the aerospace and electrical energy markets.

In the company’s Flat-Rolled Products segment, shipments of high-value products increased 2 percent and shipments of standard products increased 13 percent, compared to the first quarter. The segment’s improved performance is primarily due to continued growth in the oil and gas, electrical energy and aerospace markets, and recovery in the global automotive market.

“Direct international sales increased to over 35 percent of second-quarter 2010 sales,” Hassey added. “Today, ATI is more globally focused than at any other time in our history.”

Hassey reported that the melt shop consolidation at the company’s Brackenridge, Pa., facility is nearly complete and is expected to result in considerable cost savings beginning in late 2010.

“Looking ahead to the second half of 2010, our key markets are performing well. The aerospace market continues to improve and we are seeing improved demand from oil and gas and chemical processing projects in Asia and the Middle East. Caution best describes our standard stainless steel business, which reflects falling raw materials costs and uncertain economic conditions,” Hassey said.

Market Leader Swings to Healthy Earnings

Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, reported net income of $1.7 billion on sales totaling $21.7 billion in second-quarter 2010, a substantial improvement from the net loss of $792 million reported in last year’s second quarter. This also compares favorably to first-quarter 2010 when the company reported a net income of $679 million on sales of $18.7 billion.

Sales in the second quarter were up 16 percent and earnings were up 59 percent vs. the previous quarter. Steel shipments totaled 22.8 million metric tons, up from 21.5 million tons in the previous quarter and 17.0 million tons in second-quarter 2009.

“The improved performance in the second quarter is in line with our expectations and reflects the continued slow and progressive recovery,” said Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal. “Although the third quarter will be impacted by a combination of seasonal factors and the effects of the economic slowdown in China, underlying demand continues to show improvement. The challenge for the second half of the year will be to pass on the full extent of cost increases to our customers.”

ArcelorMittal plans to increase its prices for steel by 10 percent this year to preserve its profitability, despite its expectation that demand will weaken worldwide.

The company also is assessing plans to spin off its stainless steel division. “We have confidence in the future of the stainless business and believe that the creation of a separately focused company will create additional value for all shareholders,” Mittal said.

For the first half of 2010, ArcelorMittal saw a net income of nearly $2.4 billion on sales of over $40.3 billion worldwide. This compares to a net loss of over $1.8 billion on sales of $30.3 billion in first-half 2009.

The mill’s capacity utilization increased to 78 percent in the second quarter, up from 72 percent in the first quarter, but is expected to slip to 70 percent in the third quarter due to seasonal slowdowns. Average selling prices are expected to remain stable due largely to higher raw material prices, the company reported.

Carpenter Technology
‘Business Continues to Have Good Top-Line Momentum’

Specialty steel maker Carpenter Technology Corp., Wyomissing, Pa., reported net income of $5.9 million for its fourth quarter ended June 30, a substantial turnaround from the net loss of $20.8 million for the same quarter a year earlier.

“Our business continues to have good top-line momentum, and we believe our growth strategies and positioning with key customers will generate strong revenue growth in fiscal 2011,” said Chairman Gregory A. Pratt. “During this quarter, we made a decision to support growing customer demand by ramping up production and increasing inventories. These actions have put us in a better position heading into fiscal 2011.”

Net sales for Carpenter’s fourth quarter were $364.2 million, up 42 percent from the prior year. Excluding surcharge revenue, net sales were $269.8 million, up 26 percent from a year ago. Total pounds sold in the fourth quarter were 58 percent higher than the 2009 fourth quarter. Gross profit was $43.7 million, up from $8.4 million in the 2009 fourth quarter.

Commenting on specific market segments, Carpenter officials noted that aerospace market sales were $153.7 million in the fourth quarter, up 26 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Aerospace results reflect continued strong demand and share gain for engine components, which were partially offset by still stagnant demand for fasteners.

Industrial market sales were $87.9 million, up 70 percent compared with the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009. The year-over-year result reflects increased demand for lower-value products that include stainless redraw rod and stainless bar sold to distributors.

Consumer market sales were $38.5 million, an increase of 91 percent from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, driven by supply chain inventory restocking of bi-metallic strip and stainless fasteners.

Automotive market sales were $30.6 million, an increase of 125 percent from a year earlier, reflecting higher demand for engine fasteners and fuel injectors along with greater share in lower value automotive valves.

Medical market sales were $28.8 million in the fourth quarter, up 2 percent from a year ago, reflecting share gain in cobalt-based implant products and improved demand for stainless instruments.

Energy market sales of $24.7 million increased 16 percent from the fourth quarter a year earlier, reflecting sharply higher volumes for oil and gas applications as drilling rig activity increased and supply chain inventories achieved a better balance.

International sales in the fourth quarter were $115.2 million, an increase of 40 percent compared with the same quarter a year earlier. Revenues increased 49 percent in Asia on 64 percent higher volume driven by significant growth in the automotive, consumer and industrial markets. Sales in Europe were up 39 percent on 34 percent higher volume due mainly to significant growth in aerospace. From the third quarter, sales outside the U.S. increased 10 percent.

“As the recovery unfolds, Carpenter is well positioned to meet the demands of our customers and deliver good results in fiscal 2011,” said William A. Wulfsohn, president and CEO.

Gerdau Ameristeel
Gerdau Continues Gains

Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., Tampa, Fla., reported net income of $46.7 million for the three months ended June 30, up from income of $25.2 million in the previous quarter and a big gain from a net loss of $52.4 million for the same period last year. For the first six months of the year, the company reported net income of $71.9 million, up from a net loss of $83.9 million for last year’s first half.

“Our ability to manage costs and maximize efficiency throughout our operations, along with the gradual improvement in business fundamentals, was clearly reflected in our second-quarter EBITDA results,” said Mario Longhi,
president and CEO of Gerdau Ameristeel. “Looking toward the second half of 2010, we remain cautious as unemployment continues to be high and the overall economy remains fragile.”

Gerdau’s net sales for the second quarter increased 30 percent to $1.3 billion compared to second-quarter 2009, an increase of 18 percent compared to the previous quarter. The average mill selling price was up 15 percent vs. the second quarter last year. Finished steel shipments totaled 1.5 million tons for the second quarter, an increase of 15 percent compare to the same quarter last year and a 4 percent increase vs. the previous quarter.

Net sales for the six-month period increased 19 percent to $2.5 billion from $2.1 billion reported last year. The average mill selling price of $672 per ton was flat with last year’s first half. Finished steel shipments totaled 3.0 million tons for this year’s first half, an increase of 20 percent vs. last year’s period.

Nucor Steel
Nucor Sees Big Bump in Second-Quarter Profits

Nucor Corp. enjoyed a large increase in profits during the second quarter of 2010. The Charlotte, N.C.-based minimill reported net earnings of $91.0 million, nearly 200 percent greater than the $31.0 million in the first quarter of the year. The contrast was even greater compared to the same quarter in 2009. Nucor reported a loss of $133.3 million
in the second period of 2009, a rare losing quarter for the company.

Nucor’s net sales increased 15 percent to $4.20 billion from $3.65 billion during the second quarter. Sales were up 69 percent compared to the second quarter of 2009. Tons shipped to outside customers totaled 5.6 million, only 1 percent more than the first quarter but a 35 percent increase from the same three months of 2009.

In the first half of 2010, Nucor reported consolidated net earnings of $122.0 million, compared with a net loss of $323.0 million in the first half of last year. Nucor’s consolidated net sales increased 53 percent in the first half to $7.85 billion, compared with $5.13 billion in last year’s first half. Average sales price per ton increased 8 percent, while total tons shipped to outside customers increased 41 percent over the first half of 2009, reported company officials in their conference call with analysts and investors last month.

“Overall operating rates at our steel mills in the second quarter (71 percent) were down slightly from the first quarter (73 percent), with some improvements at the beam and plate mills offset by declines at the sheet mills,” said Dan DiMicco, Nucor chairman, president and CEO. “Steel mill utilization significantly increased from 46 percent in last year’s second quarter, and increased from 46 percent in the first half of 2009 to 72 percent in the first half of 2010.”

Operating results improved significantly over the first quarter, primarily due to increased margins, DiMicco said. However, he added, it’s unclear if the upward trend experienced through the first half of the year will continue. “There is a general slowdown taking place across all product lines as the overall economy has entered into a new period of uncertainty. This is the case both in the U.S. and globally. The most challenging markets for our products continue to be those associated with residential and nonresidential construction, which continue to show little, if any, strength. This is particularly true for our downstream businesses.”

Nucor continues to invest for long-term growth, DiMicco said, pointing to the company’s new SBQ and rebar production, galvanizing, heat-treating and Castrip facilities, as well as its proposed pig iron plant in Louisiana. Internationally, Nucor’s Duferdofin Italian joint venture with Duferco and its NuMit joint venture with Japan’s Mitsui have both gotten off to strong starts. “The opportunities with Mitsui have the potential to expand the partnership’s reach into raw materials, steelmaking and into downstream businesses, both domestically and internationally,” DiMicco said.

In April, Nucor acquired its 50 percent interest in NuMit, which invests in various steel and steel-related activities in North America and around the world. As part of the agreement, Mitsui contributed 100 percent of Steel Technologies Inc., which operates 23 sheet steel processing facilities throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The purchase price of Nucor’s 50 percent interest was approximately $221.3 million. At closing, Nucor also extended a $40.0 million loan and a $60.0 million line of credit (of which $54.0 million was drawn down immediately) to Steel Technologies.

Nucor spent $163 million in capital improvements in the first half and has a projected capital budget of $370 million for the year. Executives feel the company’s product diversity puts it in a good position to emerge from the recession stronger than it went in.

One example is a new product, HP16, produced by Nucor Yamato, the largest H-piling section available in North America. Initial orders will be used to help shore up the river system in New Orleans, said John Ferriola, chief operating officer of steelmaking.

Nucor continues to experience success in the export market, reporting one million tons of exports in the first half or 11 percent of total mill shipments, a 50 percent increase over last year. With over 60 percent of its mill capacity on or with ready access to deep water ports, the export market is a natural for Nucor, Ferriola said.

It is difficult to tell if slowing sales and weakening steel prices are seasonal or the result of ongoing economic challenges, he added, noting a slight uptick in service center inventories. “We see a difference between what we would call apparent demand and real demand, and that is impacting service centers’ behavior. Right now we feel true demand is stronger than apparent demand. That is a function of
service centers, due to the uncertainty, holding back on their purchases.

“Customers tell us that although demand is certainly down 20 to 30 percent from 2008, real demand for their products has been pretty consistent throughout last year and the first half of this year,” he added.

Steel Dynamics
Earnings Up from Last Year, But Not Last Quarter

Steel Dynamics Inc., Fort Wayne, Ind., reported net income of $49 million for the second quarter of 2010, up from a net loss of $16 million for the second quarter of 2009, but down from a net income of $65 million in the previous quarter.

Second-quarter net sales of $1.6 billion were more than double net sales of $792 million for the second quarter of 2009 and were 5 percent higher than first quarter 2010. Second-quarter steel shipments of 1.3 million tons were 43 percent higher than the second quarter of 2009, but were 10 percent lower than the first quarter of 2010.

In metals recycling, OmniSource’s ferrous metals shipments in the second quarter were 1.4 million gross tons, up 10 percent from the first quarter. Nonferrous shipments were 237 million pounds, down slightly from the first quarter. OmniSource’s operating income declined by $18 million for the quarter, however, despite the increase in the volume of ferrous scrap sold. OmniSource’s gross margin decreased by 3 percentage points as scrap selling prices declined during the quarter.

SDI’s steel operations achieved an operating income of $134 million in the second quarter, which was slightly lower than the first quarter’s $138 million, reported Keith Busse, chairman and CEO. The main reason for the income decline was reduced volume.

“Flat-rolled steel shipments in the second quarter were down 15 percent from the first quarter, while shipments of long products were somewhat stronger. Weakness in flat-roll demand beginning late in the quarter, coupled with a malfunctioning melt-shop transformer, took its toll on shipments,” Busse said. “In addition, the Roanoke Bar Division experienced a transformer failure in June, reducing production and shipping volumes for the quarter and increasing costs for the quarter related to the repair.

Average steel selling prices increased $93 per ton to $829, compared to $736 in the first quarter, while the average scrap cost per ton increased $49, he added.

SDI executives reported continued progress in ramping up the Mesabi Nugget plant in Minnesota, although downtime for equipment upgrades reduced second-quarter nugget production to 19,200 metric tons. “We continue to expect to reach production rates of approximately two-thirds of the facility’s estimated annual capacity of 500,000 metric tons by the end of this year, forecasting a significant increase in production in the second half,” Busse said.

He forecasts relatively steady demand for steel products and a better pricing environment in the second half, with some short-term uncertainty surrounding demand for flat-rolled products. “Except for the continued weakness in demand for structural steel, our long-products mills remain in good shape, with an especially strong backlog for engineered bars,” Busse said. “Structural steel volumes have seen some improvement, but our structural mill is still running at a relatively low capacity-utilization rate of less than 40 percent. Although the economy has slowly improved over the past few quarters, at this point we are cautious about the outlook for the second half. While I don’t look for the economy to sharply strengthen, I don’t see a double-dip. Therefore progress will probably just be slow and steady.”

Strong Second Quarter Raises Full-Year Outlook

The Timken Company, Canton, Ohio, reported sales of $1.0 billion in the second quarter of 2010, an increase of 37 percent over the same period a year ago, driven by strong demand in the company’s Mobile Industries and Steel segments. The company generated strong earnings from continuing operations in the second quarter of $81.4 million, compared with last year’s second-quarter loss of $39.0 million.

The increase in second-quarter earnings reflects the combined effects of recovering demand and improvements in the company’s cost structure, manufacturing performance and pricing. “Our company has rebounded extremely well from the challenges experienced during the recent recession,” said James W. Griffith, Timken president and chief executive officer. “We are leveraging increased customer demand and growth in attractive markets to deliver stronger earnings.”

Among recent developments, the company acquired QM Bearings and Power Transmission, Ferndale, Wash., which will expand Timken’s offering in industrial markets. It also continued to execute its wind energy strategy with a variety of new product introductions, and received a $26-million contract to supply wind turbine products and services to Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., one of the world’s top five wind-power equipment manufacturers.

During the first six months of 2010, the company benefited from increased demand, improved manufacturing performance and cost-reduction initiatives. For the first half of 2010, Timken’s sales totaled $1.9 billion, an increase of 20 percent from the same period in 2009. Income from the company’s continuing operations for the first six months of 2010 totaled $109.7 million, compared with a loss of $34.5 million a year ago.

Sales for Timken’s Steel Group, including inter-group sales, totaled $338.1 million in the second quarter, an increase of 151 percent from $134.8 million for the same period last year. The increase was driven by stronger demand across most end markets and higher raw-material surcharges of $84 million. For the first six months of 2010, Steel Group sales were $608.4 million, up 59 percent from the first half of last year.

The company’s outlook for 2010 reflects general improvement in the global economy that varies by end-market and geographic region. Timken anticipates an increase in sales of approximately 25 to 30 percent over 2009, driven primarily by stronger demand in its Steel and Mobile Industries segments.

U.S. Steel
Steelmaker Cuts Losses, Closes in on Profitability

United States Steel Corp. moved closer to profitability during the second quarter. The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker reported a net loss of $25 million, its smallest quarterly loss since the steel downturn at the end of 2008.

U.S. Steel’s losses have been shrinking steadily since the first quarter of 2009, when it posted a quarterly loss of $439 million. The company reported a loss of $157 million during this year’s first quarter.

“Operating results improved significantly from the first quarter of 2010,” said Chairman, President and CEO John Surma. “Sequentially, the most notable improvement was in our flat-rolled segment, which benefitted from increased average realized prices and healthy order rates in most of our markets. In Europe, we had our second consecutive profitable quarter, and our tubular segment income from operations more than doubled as compared to the first quarter of 2010.” 

Flat-rolled results improved significantly from the first-quarter 2010, primarily reflecting the benefits of increases in average realized prices, as well as higher trade and intersegment shipments, lower energy costs and increased production volumes, company officials said. Partially offsetting these improvements were increased facility repair and maintenance costs, including $60 million of repair and maintenance at Lake Erie Works, and higher raw material costs.

The raw steel capability utilization rate for the flat-rolled segment increased from 73 to 82 percent as the company operated all of its steelmaking facilities, except Lake Erie. Adjusting for Lake Erie Works, which restarted steel production late in the second quarter, U.S. Steel’s flat-rolled business operated at 91 percent of available raw steel capability in the second quarter.

Shipments increased by 14 percent to 4.1 million tons and average prices increased by $46 per ton from the first quarter of 2010 to $700 per ton. The higher average prices were driven by increases in both spot and index-based contract prices.

Second-quarter 2010 results for the company’s tubular segment improved significantly from the first quarter of 2010. The benefits of increases in average prices and higher shipments were only partially offset by increased costs for steel substrate, most of which is supplied by the company’s flat-rolled segment. Shipments increased 40 percent to 433,000 tons, and the reported average realized price for the segment increased by $107 per ton to $1,496 per ton. Operating rates continued to increase throughout the quarter in line with demand trends, particularly for alloy oil country tubular goods.

“We expect to report an overall operating profit in the third quarter as the U.S. and European economies continue to work their way through a gradual and uneven recovery process,” Surma said. “Operating results are expected to be below the second quarter largely due to a decrease in shipping and production volumes for our flat-rolled segment, reflecting slower order rates, primarily from spot market customers thus far in the quarter.

“Carbon flat-rolled inventory levels on a months-of-supply basis at North American service centers remain below historical averages and end-user demand appears stable. Similar market conditions prevail for our European operations,” he added.

The company expects its third-quarter results for flat-rolled to be near break-even levels due to lower trade and intersegment shipments and production volumes, and increased costs for raw materials and energy.  

Surma says the current buying patterns for its customers break down into two groups. Demand remains stable from customers tied directly to end markets. However, customers that carry inventory, such as service centers, have become much more cautious in their buys. “There’s a bit of a pause, and has been for quite some time. If the end-use demand in the other markets remains stable, inventories aren’t particularly high and lead times are relatively short, it all could mean there are better order rates ahead in the third quarter,” he said.

Surma, who has been a vocal advocate for improving workplace safety, expressed his dismay over two recent accidents at company facilities. An explosion of a coke battery at the Clairton Coke plant July 14 reportedly injured up to 20 employees and contractors, a handful of them seriously, while an incident at the Gary Works high line injured another worker.

“We are saddened and deeply troubled. We do not accept excuses as ‘accidents happen’ or ‘it’s a dangerous job.’ We are committed to finding the root cause of these incidents,” Surma said.

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