U.S. Steel Gary Works is seen from the air.  Kale Wilk, file, The Times
U.S. Steel Gary Works is seen from the air. Kale Wilk, file, The Times
U.S. Steel has idled a tin line at the Gary Works steel mill.

"Number 5 tin line at Gary Works is temporarily idled due to market conditions," U.S. Steel spokeswoman Amanda Malkowsi said. "The company’s other tin operations continue to operate in line with customer demand."

Tin is used for cans for fruits, vegetables, beans, chili and other food products, as well as for aeresol cans, paint cans and other uses.

U.S. Steel has been scaling back on its tin-making operations for years as the market has shrunk. In 2015, it indefinitely idled the East Chicago Tin finishing plant at 101 E. 129th St., near Indiana Harbor Works, the BP Whiting Refinery and the Marktown neighborhood. U.S. Steel had acquired that plant from LTV in 2000.

About 369 workers were laid off when that tin mill was shuttered. U.S. Steel said the idling was until market conditions improved and — seven years later — they still haven't improved.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker also characterized the No. 5 Tin Line idling as temporary.

"We expect to bring No. 5 tin line back online when market conditions allow," Malkowsi said.

No layoffs will take place.

"Impacted employees were shifted to other areas at Gary, and there were no job losses," she said.

The tin market has long been declining as customers have gravitated away from canned food toward more fresh produce. It also has been eroded by substitutes like aluminum, tin-free steel and recycled tin.
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