Weirton tinplate plant to be put on care and maintenance indefinitely

News Analysis




Weirton tinplate plant to be put on care and maintenance indefinitely

Cleveland-Cliffs will place its operation on care & maintenance in April this year following a decision by the USITC to overturn anti-dumping duties on food can steel imports.

Cleveland-Cliffs owns and operates the Weirton tinplate facility located in Weirton, West Virginia. The plant is situated along the Ohio River, which allows for easy shipping, stocking and trades. Currently the Weirton tinplate facility is one of four tinplate production mills in operation in the USA making it a strategic source for local tin mill products.

On 15 February, Cleveland-Cliffs announced the indefinite idling of its tinplate production plant starting in April 2024 following an unfavourable ruling by the US International Trade Commission (USITC). On 6 February, a unanimous decision was reached by all four members of the USITC, determining that tin mill product imports from Canada, China, and Germany pose no threat to the US industry. Consequently, anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders will not be imposed on tin mill product imports from these countries. In addition, the anti-dumping duty investigation regarding tin mill product imports from South Korea will be terminated as a result of the finding of negligibility. A Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice was issued on 15 February to approximately 900 employees working at the Weirton plant. Affected employees were provided relocation opportunities at other Cleveland-Cliffs’ facilities and/or severance packages.

Project Blue estimates a modest 0.8%py growth in tinplate demand over the next decade, primarily driven by its applications in tin cans utilised for food and aerosol packaging. Meanwhile, North American tinplate consumption is expected to grow at a more robust rate of 2.5%py over the same period. With this in mind, the planned idling of operations at the Weirton facility presents a significant supply risk for tinplate, which could lead to the tightening of domestic tin can supply should imports be disrupted. Consequently, this would mean the USA will have to maintain good trade relations with foreign tinplate producers as domestic production alone won't suffice to meet the rising demand.