ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor. The No. 3 blast furnace in Indiana Harbor West will be idled next week for planned maintenance. Staff photo by John J. Watkins
ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor. The No. 3 blast furnace in Indiana Harbor West will be idled next week for planned maintenance. Staff photo by John J. Watkins
EAST CHICAGO | ArcelorMittal will idle the No. 3 blast furnace at Indiana Harbor, and it will stay offline for months in a previously scheduled outage.

The Luxembourg-based steelmaker has been making preparations to shut down the blast furnace at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor West in East Chicago for planned maintenance next week. Stove repairs are needed.

"The outage is expected to last until late Q2 2015 or until additional capacity is required to meet customer demand," ArcelorMittal spokeswoman Mary Beth Holdford said. "The stove repairs on No. 3 blast furnace will improve the efficiency and reliability of the asset and ultimately allow ArcelorMittal and the Indiana Harbor facility to be well positioned to meet future customer requirements."

Overall demand for domestic steel is low as cheap imports have flooded in, and national capacity utilization has sunk below 70 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute

ArcelorMittal will continue to operate its No. 4 and No. 7 blast furnaces at the century-old steel mill, which employs around 4,850 workers on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. The 3,100-acre steelmaking complex, the largest in North America, makes steel for cars, appliances and contractor applications, among other uses.

"The outage will not impact our ability to meet customer demand," Holdford said,

The No. 3 blast furnace can make as much as 4,500 tons of iron per day, Steel Market Update estimates. It was last down for maintenance in 2013, when a turbo blower failed, causing an unplanned outage.

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