Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dreams of Steel Minimill Come to End

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dreams of Steel Minimill Come to End

Article excerpt

"Rust to revival" was the Aug. 12, 1994, headline on a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story about plans to build a steel minimill in Ambridge on the site of U.S. Steel's former American Bridge plant. World Class Steel, the region's most ambitious steel-making project since World War II, was toasted by the late Gov. Robert P. Casey and other dignitaries, who hailed the 450 jobs that the proposed mill would create.

Over the next two decades, more steel industry revival stories would follow. Unfortunately, just as many stories would be written about the latest victims of the treacherously cyclical industry.

Now, apparently, one is being written about the remnants of that World Class dream.

Samuel, Son & Co. of Mississauga, Ontario, announced it will close the steel processing operation that remains at the World Class site by the end of the year, putting its 36 employees out of work.

"Business conditions have been poor for some time and have not improved," spokesman Peter Baines said in an email.

Where have we heard that before?

Like a poorly rhymed T.S. Eliot poem, steel companies come and go. Since that bright summer day when World Class Chairman Matthew Botsford Jr. showcased plans for his ill-fated mill, the U.S. steel industry has suffered through a wave of bankruptcies that devastated the industry and the workers who relied on it for steady, well-paying jobs - and pensions.

Casualties included industry stalwarts like Bethlehem Steel, which supplied the beams for San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel and Weirton Steel, the industry's perennial stepchildren, also disappeared.

Just a few years later, the steel industry was booming. The consolidation sparked by the bankruptcies created stronger, more nimble producers just as global demand boomed. The virulent mood swings that the industry, its investors and its bankers are susceptible to swung to the bullish frontier of the barometer. Shares of U.S. Steel topped $191 in the second quarter of 2008.

What happened next, the Great Recession, was inevitable. But it still came as a shock to those doomed to a life of relearning the meaning of cyclical. …

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