AK Steel Announcement

Part of a blast furnace at the idled AK Steel plant in Russell. KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

Cleveland-Cliffs, the company that purchased AK Steel — including the Ashland Works site — recently announced that the plant would not be used in the future. The company will proceed in planning the demolition of the site, according to Patricia Persico, Director of Communications for Cleveland-Cliffs.

“We will be moving forward with demolition plans and preparing the site for other uses,” Persico said. “Presently there is no fixed timeline for the demolition.”

The company is still assessing the demolition, and it is uncertain how much of the existing equipment is able to be repurposed, or how much will need to be scrapped. Persico said Cleveland-Cliffs will update plans in the future.

Tim Gibbs, of Ashland Alliance, said he is certain that everyone in the area has mixed feelings about the news.

“We have to be respectful,” Gibbs said. “This is a plant that at one time employed 8,000 people in our area. It was a plant that helped our country win wars, and funded the education of the families of those employees.”

Gibbs said it is best at this point to consider the news of the demolition as a first, new step.

“The plant was shut down for three years,” he said, “and I think we all knew this day was coming. But if it can’t remain AK Steel, then we have to look to the future. It is a very valuable spot on the river, 750 acres with an established infrastructure and rail set-up, that can still be used to benefit the entire area. And everyone in the area, as well as the good people at Cleveland-Cliffs, should work together to bring what’s next.”

The Amanda blast furnace idled in December 2015. Ashland Works has not been in operation since November 2019, when the coating line conducted its final run.

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