Steel still vital for area

The purchase of the Mingo Junction steel mill best known as Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel by JSW, a leading Indian steelmaker, is good news.

The firm is looking to establish a foothold in the United States as a potential 4 million ton-a-year steelmaker with operations in Texas and Mingo Junction.

The old W-P plant operated at about 2.5 million tons a year before W-P went bankrupt for a second time and the plant wound up spending the 21st century so far going through a succession of owners.

JSW is different.

For one thing, it has an established presence on the world stage as a steelmaker. For another, it has an established presence in the United States with its plant in Texas, where it is investing in installation of an electric arc steelmaking furnace.

It plans to invest $250 million in the Mingo Junction mill to get the EAF that was built by W-P in its final days operating to capacity, something neither Wheeling-Pitt nor the succession of owners could or would do.

If market conditions warrant, JSW has an ambitious plan to upgrade facilities, install a second electric steelmaking furnace and create a 3 million ton-per-year steel plant at Mingo Junction.

The plant will not employ thousands of workers as it did in the old days, but hundreds could find jobs working in a facility JSW officials say will feature the latest technology, where fewer man-hours are needed to produce a ton of steel.

The rejuvenation of Mingo Junction from the shell that has resulted with the loss of the steel mill, operating at limited capacity in recent months as ARCERO Junction Steel, will be a joy to watch if JSW’s plans come to fruition.

The investment is a positive result of steel tariffs implemented by the Trump administration, a move that might have saved more of America’s steel capacity decades ago if the nation had truly stood up for the industry.

We welcome the new steelmaker to the deep-rooted Steel Valley. The area is shifting to an energy economy, but steel, hopefully, can remain a vital part of a diversified business mix.