GRANITE CITY — Nearly 1,000 jobs could soon be in jeopardy at the century-old steelmaking plant here.The plant’s owner, Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corp., announced late Tuesday that it is considering a deal with Chicago-based SunCoke Energy to repurpose blast furnaces at Granite City Works over the next two years. If the deal goes through, SunCoke Energy would build a 2-million-ton plant to produce “pig iron” ingots, the building-blocks for steel. U.S. Steel spokesperson Amanda Malkowski said the company expects the move to result in the loss of 950 of the 1,500 jobs at the plant. Dan Simmons, president of the local chapter of the United Steelworkers, called the decision a betrayal of the workers and the Granite City community.”Today Granite City Works is a viable and profitable steel operation,” Simmons’ statement read. “There is no compulsory economic need to shut down its steelmaking and finishing capacity.
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“However, in pursuit of financial greed, USS plans to shut down these vital resources and turn its back on both the skilled, hard-working steelworkers who have made this company successful and the community that has sustained it.”The deal, if finalized, threatens the future of a 127-year-old operation, an economic engine of this Metro East suburb and a facility held up as a success story in a revitalized U.S. steel industry. Just four years ago, President Donald Trump visited the plant, lauding the impact of tariffs he imposed on imported steel. The plant had ground to a halt about two years prior. But, that summer, the facility was set to rekindle both blast furnaces. Rehiring had already begun.This week’s announcement, however, shows U.S. Steel shifting directions.U.S. Steel would supply the iron ore for the SunCoke plant from its own mines.The companies said building the new facility would take about two years, and would not immediately impact staffing at the Granite City plant.SunCoke said it would continue to operate the plant here, supplying coke, the fuel used to make steel, to the Granite City Works furnaces.Neither U.S. Steel nor SunCoke said what would happen to the plant after the new facility is finished.
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