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Steel Company, Transformer Makers in Talks About West Virginia Plant

April 25, 2024
Cleveland-Cliffs’ CEO says his team wants to help solve the country’s electric equipment shortage.

A West Virginia tinplate plant recently idled by steel manufacturer Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. could be revived as a hub for electric transformer manufacturing, the company’s leader said April 23.

Chairman, President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves and his team this month indefinitely halted production at their Weirton plant after the International Trade Commission overruled a U.S. Department of Commerce recommendation that tinplate imports be slapped with a range of duties. The decision left more than 900 people without a job, although more than 100 of them have since relocated to other Cliffs plants.

But Cliffs isn’t prepared to walk away from its site on the Ohio River about 30 miles west of Pittsburgh. Goncalves said he has been talking to some of his customers that make transformers—ERMCO, a 2,000-employee subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., is among them—about adding capacity to a market that’s been very tight for several years as electrification investments have soared. Among the options are building a new plant in Weirton plant to make transformers.

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