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Coronavirus not yet impacting US steel production: mills

Pittsburgh — US steelmakers have not yet seen an impact on production from the global coronavirus outbreak, but are closely monitoring the situation, several domestic steelmakers told S&P Global Platts approaching the end of the week.

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"We continue to monitor the situation and communicate that information regularly throughout our organization, including preventative tips," US Steel said in a statement, adding that the company has taken measures to reduce risks to its workforce and contingency planning within the organization remains ongoing.

"We will activate these plans as circumstances warrant," the company said.

As of Thursday, the US had 1,215 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 36 deaths, according to the latest data from the Center for Disease Control. The World Health Organization on Tuesday characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic.

Currently, US Steel is not experiencing issues in the US with essential materials, it said.

"As a routine procedure, we have been in contact and tracking all raw materials since the outbreak," the company said. "While we see no signs of delivery issues, we have contingency plans in place."

SSAB Americas is also not expecting to see a disruption to its US production or services as a result of the coronavirus at this time, a spokeswoman for the company said.

"We are continuing to monitor the situation and will take appropriate measures as warranted. As always, our top priorities remain the safety of our workforce and our commitment to our customers," an SSAB Americas spokeswoman said.

Steel Dynamics Inc. said it has researched its supply chains and believes the company is well positioned with primary suppliers and tertiary suppliers to ensure operations during this period of uncertainty.

"Fortunately, our steel mills are located in areas that have had very small exposures to date," the company said in a statement. "We will continue to closely monitor the situation."

SDI has pandemic plans in place at its major steelmaking facilities, the company said.

"We will continue to assess the situation and respond appropriately to the government directives and the advice from the Centers for Disease Control," SDI said.

Nucor has suspended non-essential travel and is conducting meetings via phone and video conference, a spokeswoman for the company said.

"This is a rapidly evolving situation and we continue to monitor developments and take appropriate measures," a Nucor spokeswoman said. "...If necessary, we will make further adjustments to how we do business in response to this changing situation. Our number one priority is the safety of our teammates and their families."

A spokesman for Republic Steel said the virus has had no impact on its production.

US Steel said the reaction to the coronavirus outbreak highlights general supply chain vulnerabilities.

"[This] is a primary reason why we believe a strong domestic steel industry is needed," the company said. "Products that are made and used domestically are more sustainable since they avoid national security risks, supply disruptions and the environmental cost of transoceanic shipment."

US hot-rolled coil prices were still holding on Thursday as mill availability remained constrained with looming spring and early summer outages. The daily Platts TSI US HRC index was unchanged at $582.25/st, while the daily Platts TSI US cold-rolled coil index held at $750/st.