Cleveland-Cliffs Tin Mill Steel Facility Announces Closure of Weirton Plant

Rapid help has been promised to 900-1,000 workers who will lose their jobs at Cleveland-Cliffs tin mill steel facility in Weirton.
The company announced late last week that it will close that plant in April and blamed the decision on unfair dumping of tin mill products from China, Canada and Germany.
Local officials, state legislators and federal officials are pointing the finger at the U. S. International Trade Commission’s decision that those imports do not sufficiently harm the domestic steel industry.
Collectively, officials are labeling the announcement “a gut punch.”
The promise of quick help through a two-prong approach came from Gov. Jim Justice.
“The news of Cleveland-Cliffs closing their Weirton operation hits me like a ton of bricks. Nearly 900 West Virginia jobs are lost; it’s a gut punch to families, to the community and to our state’s very spirit.
“And it’s all because of an unwise, irresponsible decision by the U. S. International Trade Commission. This commission has only four members, three of whom were appointed by President Barack Obama.
“Their decision denied proposed import tariffs on tin mill products from China, Canada, and Germany that the U.S. Department of Commerce determined are sold in the United States at less than fair value and directly subsidized by the government of China.
“Their decision effectively allows cheap steel to continue flooding into our country, which forced Cleveland-Cliffs to close their facility and will further decimate America’s steel industry in the days and weeks to come.
“These four unelected bureaucrats should not have the power to unilaterally dismantle an American industry with no oversight. I’m calling on our President and Congress to reign in this commission and not idly stand by while American workers and communities suffer. 
President Trump’s tariffs on steel imports worked because they put America first. They protected America’s steel industry and prevented a disastrous decision like this from occurring. It was shortsighted and foolish for President Biden to reverse them in the name of politics.”:
Gov. Justice said he would immediately deploy an Economic Development Task Force.
“This team will hit the ground running to identify and attract businesses seeking incredible facilities like this one, leveraging every incentive within our power,” Justice said.
“I am directing this team to continue working with the company as well to explore any and all options available in this unacceptable situation.”
The governor also promised to deploy immediately a Workforce WV Quick Response Team.
“This team, with experts in job training and relocation assistance will hit the ground running to connect affected workers with new opportunities,” Justice explained.
“This team will provide personalized training and certification programs to equip workers with the latest skills, ensuring they are competitive in any industry. No one will be left behind; we’ll tailor support based on your individual needs and goals.
“West Virginians are known for their grit and resilience. We’ve overcome challenges before, and we’ll overcome this one too. Together, we’ll ensure Weirton emerges stronger, with a brighter future for all,” he added.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) added his voice to those expressing their displeasure with the trade commission’s ruling.
“This announcement is a consequence of the International Trade Commission’s decision to turn a blind eye to nearly 1,000 hard-working employees right here in West Virginia in favor of illegally dumped and subsidized imports. Cleveland-Cliffs’ closure is an absolute injustice not only to American workers, but to the very principle of fair competition, and it will undoubtedly weaken our economic and national security,” Manchin said.
 The Senator said he had called Lourenco Goncalves, Cleveland-Cliffs’ chairman, president and CEO, as well as Mark Glyptis, United Steelworkers Local 2911 president, to express his solidarity with the company and its workers.
“I strongly urge the administration to take this opportunity to do the right thing and recommit to revitalizing our domestic manufacturing, strengthening our supply chains, and keeping good-paying jobs right here in the Mountain State,” Manchin said.
“My commitment to the cause has only grown, and I stand ready to work with Mr. Goncalves, the United Steelworkers and all of our partners in this effort to safeguard our domestic steel industry.”
Manchin had toured the facility in Weirton along with Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio in September to draw attention to the antidumping concerns.
“I strongly urge the Administration to take this opportunity to do the right thing and recommit to revitalizing our domestic manufacturing, strengthening our supply chains, and keeping good-paying jobs right here in the Mountain State,” Manchin said.
Likewise, U. S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said the International Trade Commission’s (ITC) negative determinations in its final phase antidumping and countervailing duty investigations for Canada, China, and Germany and vote to terminate the antidumping duty investigation for South Korea led to the closing.
“I am devastated to learn that Cleveland-Cliffs will be closing its Weirton operation, which will result in the elimination of almost 900 jobs in the area,” Capito said.
“While little consolation to the hardworking men and women facing this incredible loss – and to the Weirton community at large – I fought to sustain operations there since learning of Cleveland Cliffs’ and the United Steelworkers’ concerns with unfair trade practices last year.
“As I have said before, the U. S. Dept. of Commerce’s final decision announced in January demonstrated our government’s recognition of the damage these unfair trade practices have had on America’s domestic tin mill production and its workers.
“The ITC’s decision to reverse Commerce’s final duties on tin mill products remains concerning and will be examined thoroughly. In my testimony to the ITC, I conveyed the deep concern I had about the potential negative impact of their ruling, and I am sorry to see this come to fruition. West Virginians are seeing and feeling the consequences of the decision today,” Sen. Capito said.
Capito provided the following timeline leading up to the company’s announcement: It said.
On Jan. 8, 2024, the Dept. of Commerce determined that Canada, Germany, South Korea, and China unfairly dumped tin mill product in the U. S. and found that China countervailed duties of imported tin mill.
 On Jan. 4, 2024, Senator Capito participated in the ITC’s hearing on tin mill products to support the Weirton plant.
On Aug. 17, 2023, in its preliminary determinations, Commerce found that producers in Canada, China, and Germany were engaged in unfair trade of tin mill products.
The department placed preliminary duties of 122.5 percent on tin mill imports from a Chinese company that was not cooperating in the investigation, 2.02 percent on imports from Germany and 5.29 percent on those from Canada.
Only if both Commerce and the ITC come to affirmative final determinations can a trade remedy order and final duties go into effect.
On Feb. 2, 2023, Sen. Capito led a bipartisan and bicameral letter expressing support for the antidumping and countervailing duty petitions filed by Cleveland-Cliffs and the United Steelworkers.
On Jan. 18, 2023, Cleveland-Cliffs and USW filed antidumping and countervailing duties against eight countries citing unfair import practices.
Gov. Justice expressed regret that he couldn’t do more, and called for President Joe Biden and Congress to “rein in” the U. S. International Trade Commission, who he blamed for the job losses.
“You talk about something that just blindsided us all,” Justice said. “It’s just a cannonball to the stomach losing 900 jobs in Weirton and Cleveland-Cliffs is closing.
“I promise you with all my soul we will do anything we possibly can to try and help and do something about this terrible situation.
“But at the end of the day, I don’t know if there’s a thing in the world we can do,” Justice continued. “We’ll try. Sometimes we’re not successful in trying because we’re handcuffed.”
In a statement released after a press conference, Justice said, “Four unelected bureaucrats should not have the power to unilaterally dismantle an American industry with no oversight.
U. S. Rep. Alex Mooney (R-1st) said, “The Cleveland-Cliffs closure is an absolute blow to our hardworking West Virginia steelworkers. When I toured Cleveland-Cliffs, we discussed the threat of unfair foreign competition and how it put the plant at risk.”
“I talked with the Dept. of Commerce and urged them to crack down on unfair foreign competition and save these jobs. The Dept. of Commerce sided with us, but the globalist, Democrat-led International Trade Commission sided with the cheap foreign competitors and as a result another American plant was closed,” Mooney stated.
State Sens. Ryan Weld and Laura Wakim Chapman expressed frustration at the International Trade Commission and the federal government at-large.
“The federal government leaves a legacy of an empty mill and an unemployment line in the city of Weirton,” Weld (R-Brooke) said.
“A lot of people were left very confused by the decision. Once again, the federal government has left the city of Weirton and its steel industry with a legacy of closed mills and unemployed workers,” he said.
Chances of reversing the decision appeared very dim, according to Weld, noting that the only place to appeal a decision by the ITC is the ITC.
“So, the same people who told you that you were terrible on Monday will turn around in a few months and tell you you’re terrible again,” he explained.
According to Weld it’s a decision which falls squarely on the Biden Administration and what he considers a failure to protect American industry.
“The U.S. steel industry and American manufacturers don’t need to have the scales tipped in their favor, but they do need the U. S. Government to stand up and do its job and make sure there’s a level playing field for everybody. It seems like in this case, the ITC and this administration was much more worried about the Chinese and Russian steel industry and other countries we import steel from and not the U. S. steel industry, which is pretty damn sad.” he said.
Both lawmakers are hopeful some of the workers will be able to move to the new Form Energy Plant, but they agree the impact on Weirton will be far-ranging.
Chapman is also hopeful that the Cleveland Cliffs facility can be repurposed in some way.
“Right now, I think it’s important to try to reuse that plant for something else to be able to employ people because we have to support our families,” she said.
State delegates Mark Zatezalo and Jimmy Willis, Republicans who represent the Weirton area, said the closure is “nothing short of devastating.”
They too blasted the International Trade Commission
“We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure the jobs at Cleveland Cliffs do not become another export to a foreign country,” the delegates stated.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Mark Glyptis, president of Local 2911 of the United Steel Workers Union.
“ITC betrayed America. There isn’t any question whatsoever, none at all, that these companies are dumping their products onto our marketplace.”
Affected employees will be provided relocation opportunities to work at other Cliffs’ facilities and/or severance packages, the company said.
“This bad outcome requires better and stronger trade laws,” stated Lourenco Goncalves, president and chief executive of Cleveland-Cliffs.
Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America.
Founded in 1847 as a mine operator, Cliffs also is the largest manufacturer of iron ore pellets in North America.
The company is vertically integrated from mined raw materials, direct reduced iron, and ferrous scrap to primary steelmaking and downstream finishing, stamping, tooling, and tubing
Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest supplier of steel to the automotive industry in North America and serves a diverse range of other markets due to its comprehensive offering of flat-rolled steel products. Headquartered in Cleveland, OH, Cleveland-Cliffs employs about 27,000 people in the U. S. and Canada.