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United States Steel Corp  (NYSE:X)
Q2 2019 Earnings Call
Aug. 02, 2019, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to United States Steel Corporation's Second Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call and Webcast. As a reminder, today's call is being recorded.

I'll now hand the call over to Kevin Lewis, General Manager of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Kevin Lewis -- General Manager, Investor Relations

Thank you, and good morning. We appreciate your continued interest in U.S. Steel and welcome you to our second quarter earnings call. On the call with me this morning will be U.S. Steel President and CEO Dave Burritt and Executive Vice President and CFO Kevin Bradley.

After the close of business yesterday, we posted our earnings release and earnings presentation under the Investors section of our website. On today's call, we will walk through via webcast select slides and our second quarter results. The link and slides for today's call can also be found on our website.

Before we start, let me remind you that some information provided during this call may include forward-looking statements that are based on certain assumptions and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties as described in our SEC filings, and actual future results may vary materially. Forward-looking statements in the press release that we issued yesterday, along with our remarks today, are made as of today, and we undertake no duty to update them as actual events unfold.

I would now like to turn the conference call over to U.S. Steel President and CEO Dave Burritt, who will begin today's presentation on Slide 4.

David Burritt -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Kevin. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for your interest in U.S. Steel.

The market has been challenging over the past few months, but we have made a lot of progress since our last call. We are executing better, so today we will focus our discussion on execution. We are playing offense; and we are stronger, more competitive. We are turning strategy into action and creating value for stockholders, customers, employees and the stakeholders that depend upon our success. We believe execution of our strategic investments quarter-by-quarter, year-by-year is the key to our success. This is hard work, but I grow more confident in our future each day.

Here are today's highlights. We delivered $278 million of adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter. In the Flat-Rolled segment, we delivered for our customers and overcame significant weather-related logistics challenges at the end of the quarter. We also announced adjustments to our blast furnace footprint. Our supply is more balanced, and we are better positioned to serve customers and optimize value. There will be a lagging effect on pricing in the third quarter, but we are beginning to see signs of a rebound.

Market challenges continue in Europe, and we don't see that dynamic changing soon. We made the decision to also adjust our blast furnace footprint in Europe in response to the continued market weakness. Our European business remains a through-cycle strength, and we are investing in it. In Tubular, spending was up, as we expected for our Lone Star No. 1 mill restart and continued progress on our electric arc furnace construction.

Moving to our execution update. We completed planned outages on time and on budget. We advanced strategic projects on time and on budget with annual EBITDA benefits of nearly $400 million over the next three to four years, and we are adding best capabilities, not capacity, with many options available to fund strategic execution. A lot has happened since our last call, but the actions we are taking are the right ones. We are demonstrating the operational agility required to be successful in these ever-changing market dynamics. While we have seen market challenges persist, we are focused on what we control and are adapting to market opportunities and challenges. For sure, we have work to do, but our goal remains the same, execute the strategy and deliver long-term value for our stockholders.

Let me be clear. Our critical assets are better and performing at improved levels through June 30, 2019 because of asset revitalization. We are playing offense and have delivered on every asset revitalization target for EBITDA, for capex, for reliability, for quality.

Turning to Page 5. We continue to complete projects across the footprint. Today, we will focus on three key elements of execution: one, improve reliability; two, execute planned outages; three, reduce capital intensity. Before we get to the details of each element, let us give you context on our broader engineering and capital project execution. So far this year, we have spent approximately $320 million of capital on 67 projects, including approximately $130 million on asset revitalization capital. Again, these projects advanced operational excellence, expanded capabilities and improved reliability and quality and delivery.

The team continues to execute, delivering projects on time and on budget. These are significant projects on key strategic assets focused on improving reliability that generate throughput and efficiency benefits, for example: caster upgrades at Gary Works, finishing mill stand motor upgrades at our Gary Works hot strip mill and blast furnace and steel shop enhancements at our Mon Valley Works.

At the Mon Valley, we executed a major planned outage in the second quarter, investing $115 million, as we take big steps toward making Mon Valley the best low-cost, high-tech mill. The project was on time and on budget with the investment made at the steel shop completed one week ahead of schedule. This outage included major enhancements at the No. 3 blast furnace and a hood replacement at one of our BOP vessels.

We are spending on these investments to secure the Mon Valley's low-cost liquid steel position as we transition to best state-of-the-art endless casting and rolling over the next four years. This is our strategy in action, combining our competitive advantages of low cost liquid steel at the Mon Valley achieved through our fully integrated mining and cokemaking, with state-of-the-art sustainable steel technologies required to achieve differentiation in some of our most strategic end markets.

Most importantly, we did all of this work without any lost time incidents. With us, safety is first, that is 600,000 hours of work without any lost time. Our employees are conscientious and continue to set all-time safety records. It's a privilege to be on their team. Special thank you to the Mon Valley team for their impressive execution on this critically important strategic project not only to the Pittsburgh community but also to U.S. Steel's future.

Projects just like these make us more competitive today and secure our long-term future. Our assets are more competitive. Our assets are more reliable, and we are delivering for our customers. As we complete this important work, we believe we will optimize the future investment in our facilities. We have been purposeful in the investments we have made across the enterprise and are now better positioned to adjust our spending as we recognize the benefits of our investments.

Let's turn to Slide 6. We expect improvements in reliability will generate throughput and efficiency benefits while strengthening our ability to serve our customers. We have reduced unplanned downtime and gained the equivalent of 1.5 months of production. I'll say that again. We reduced unplanned downtime 1.5 months or more than 12% improvement, of additional production by running our constrained assets more reliably. This improved utilization increased our earnings power.

Equally as important, we will be better positioned to serve our customers enabling better delivery performance, better quality and better customer satisfaction. This increased utilization is valuable, as over time it falls to the bottom line. As a proof point, let's turn to Page 7 where we will take a closer look at the Mon Valley steel shop.

Strong execution of planned outages positions us to extract value from investments at the Mon Valley, where we have 85% of our asset revitalization work completed. Our upgraded blast furnaces and steel shop will be critical to providing high-quality, low-cost liquid steel for our future endless casting and rolling investment. We are seeing real improvement, roughly 200,000 tons of additional throughput, due primarily to improved reliability from the hood replacements at each of the vessels. To complete these replacements, we took additional planned outage days in the second quarter, which more than offset the reliability improvements we expect to generate on a run rate basis. Now that the work has been completed, we expect the run rate reliability improvements to generate 200,000 incremental tons. And another proof point of execution is the suite of initiatives we have undertaken at Gary blast furnace No. 14.

Let's turn to Page 8 where we will review these improvements in more detail. During the first half of 2019, we've executed critical investments at the No. 14 blast furnace, the largest blast furnace within our footprint. These investments allow us to provide fuel sourcing flexibility to optimize fuel rates. When the full scope of work is completed later this year, we will be able to pivot between fuel sources to improve our blast furnace cost structure. These investments are increasing our competitiveness and improving our operational performance. The investments we are making across our entire footprint have been purposeful and targeted, and we are strengthening the foundation of our operations.

Going forward, we expect to adjust our capital investments and generate better cash flow. Once these strategic investments are completed, we expect to preserve the operational benefits generated from these investments while consuming less capital to deliver strong free cash flow. Page 9 provides an overview of this opportunity, a $600 million improvement post strategic investments.

Post-investment horizon, we expect to optimize the levels of sustaining and maintenance and outage spend across our footprint. As I mentioned, we have deliberately been spending more across our footprint to drive significant improvements in operational performance. We have and are investing in key competitive advantages, including lowest cost taconite mines in North America, best and largest cokemaking facility in North America; technologically advanced EAFs in the Tubular business; market-leading electrical steel mill in Europe; one of the best hot strip mills making heavy-gauge steel at Gary Works; and of course, the state-of-the-art endless casting and rolling mill making thin-gauge steel at Mon Valley Works that complements our XG3 advanced high-strength steel investment at our PRO-TEC JV. Between both sustaining capex and maintenance and outage expense, we are currently spending approximately $2.5 billion annually. In the future, we see an opportunity to adapt our spend to $1.9 billion, a $600 million cash impact versus today's levels.

Turning to Slide 10. We are executing our strategic investments in line with our expectations. Let's review three technology investments starting with the Mon Valley endless casting and rolling investment. We are combining the best of both integrated mills and mini mills with this investment. Our integrated mill gives us high-quality, low-cost steelmaking; and the mini mill technology will give us industry-leading casting and rolling. We are also building a state-of-the-art cogeneration facility at our Clairton plant. The facility will convert coked oven gas to electricity and steam delivering not only significant environmental improvements for the community but also efficient, internally generated energy to our mill. When completed, this $1.2 billion investment at the Mon Valley should deliver run rate EBITDA benefits of $275 million.

The second technology investment is our Tubular segment. We are building a new state-of-the-art electric arc furnace at our Fairfield, Alabama mill to insource rounds production for our seamless mills. We expect $80 million of annualized run rate benefits by 2021 from this $280 million capital investment to complete the electric arc furnace. Our third technology investment is an electrical steel line at our European business. This $130 million capital investment should deliver annualized run rate EBITDA benefits of $35 million. These three projects represent $390 million of expected run rate EBITDA growth.

Slide 11 illustrates the balanced stream of technology-enabled EBITDA benefits expected from these three investments. No one benefit stream contributes more than 50% of the value. Capability enhancement provides $180 million and cost improvement provides $170 million of the total $390 million benefit. Our best, state-of-the-art Mon Valley endless casting and rolling investment benefits are multifaceted; and include benefits from the increased capability to serve new markets, including the advanced high-strength steel market, structural cost improvement from lower conversion costs and lower sustaining capital and energy efficiencies from the cogeneration facility.

Benefits from our tubular EAF are solely driven by insourcing our rounds supply. This significantly derisks the benefit realization. Our electrical steel line benefits have also been significantly derisked. We entered into a customer partnership agreement with a large multinational customer for almost half of the tons available from the planned line.

Now, I'll turn it over to Kevin to talk about our financial strategy to fund these investments.

Kevin Lewis -- General Manager, Investor Relations

Thanks, Dave. Good morning, everyone. We thought it would be helpful to give some additional insight on the financing alternatives we're considering for these projects. The funding scenario shown on Slide 12 provides an example of how this should play out. Starting from the bottom: We expect to fund roughly $300 million with environmental revenue bonds. The majority of this capital is associated with the Fairfield, Alabama EAF installation. We are anticipating a 30-year term on this capital at an attractive coupon.

The next source, also approximately $300 million, is from vendor-supported financing. This is primarily for the equipment portion of the Mon Valley project. The structure of this financing allows us to draw down, as needed, to match cash requirements and avoid negative carry. We can also term the structure out for up to eight years from the completion of the project. Then we have our European revolver to draw on. This facility is extremely efficient with a variable rate of Euribor plus 1.7% and a 0% floor. Our dynamo line construction will have first access to this capital.

For the next source, we are planning to upsize our U.S. ABL and partially draw on the facility. This is also an attractive source of capital that we will utilize while maintaining strong enterprise liquidity. As the chart indicates, we can also opportunistically access the high-yield market as an additional source of financing. We have a lot of flexibility on timing, as the majority of these investments is spread out over the next 2.5 years. The blended rate on these five funding options would be approximately 6% based on today's index with the variable rate components.

Before I turn it back to Dave, let's recap some of Q2 highlights on Slide 13, and I'll also provide some context on Q3. We ended the quarter with total adjusted EBITDA of $278 million, a stronger close to the quarter than we anticipated.

Our Flat-Rolled segment results were higher than the first quarter due in part to the seasonal impact of higher third-party pellet sales; higher, strong shipment volumes on the commercial side; and lower scrap and natural gas prices on the costs side. This was partially offset by lower average selling prices, as the spot market declined $70 per net ton in the quarter. We were able to overcome some weather-related shipping issues mentioned in our guidance press release, to deliver better-than-expected results. Our team did an impressive job to arrange alternative shipping options and meet customer needs. Operationally, we performed well, running our assets effectively while taking increased outages as part of our planned asset revitalization work.

Currently, we are seeing a pickup in order entry rates. However, the third quarter flat-rolled selling prices will be negatively impacted, as roughly 60% of our book of business is impacted by the significant drop in market prices we experienced in Q2. The European market continues to be challenged heading into the seasonally weak third quarter. The dynamic between steel selling prices and raw material costs remains disjointed. Weakened market demand coupled with continued high levels of imports are pressuring steel selling prices. Meanwhile, supply constraints keep iron ore prices at elevated levels. Given the seasonal slowdown, combined with these market headwinds, we believe Q3 results will be below the second quarter for Europe.

Our Tubular segment experienced commercial challenges and investment-related spending, offset by lower substrate costs. We restarted our No. 1 welded pipe mill in June, and the construction on our EAF continues as planned.

With that, I'll turn it back to Dave.

David Burritt -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Kevin.

Before we turn to Q&A, let me take a moment to recap this morning's presentation on Slide 14.

First and foremost, we are focused on what we control and are pleased with the execution in the quarter. We delivered second quarter adjusted EBITDA above our own expectations and continued to make progress on the execution of our strategy, but there are challenges. We will keep the business nimble. We will continue to demonstrate discipline in matching our supply with our order book, and we will continue our focus on cash and maintaining the financial flexibility we need to execute our long-term strategy. Cash is king, and we don't forget that. We'll stay liquid.

Kevin, let's move to Q&A.

Kevin Lewis -- General Manager, Investor Relations

Thank you, Dave. Operator, can you please cue the line for questions?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Certainly, thank you. [Operator instructions] And it comes from the line of Chris Terry with Deutsche Bank. Please proceed with your question.

Christopher Terry -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Hi, good morning, guys. Yeah, a few questions from me, maybe just starting working capital for the quarter. $104 million. I'm just wondering whether you could comment on the rest of the year, the outlook for working capital. Thanks.

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So we were happy -- this is Kevin Bradley. We were happy with the progress we made in Q2 eating into the negative working capital impact from Q1. We typically consume capital in Q1. That's a seasonal thing. What we're looking to do is, over the remainder of the year, make up the rest of that and turn positive working capital. We've got a lot of work to do, but for the full year we think we can make up the rest of that deficit and have a positive number by year-end.

Christopher Terry -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Okay, thanks.And then just in terms of the idling that you started in the quarter, just wondering whether you could comment on the cost to idle versus the operational savings you expect.

Kevin Lewis -- General Manager, Investor Relations

Yeah. Chris, this is Kevin Lewis. We probably won't get into the details on the idling costs that we incur, but what I will say and to provide you with some context, this is certainly an enterprise decision. So we certainly are taking in consideration the idling costs, but we believe that the benefits more than offset that. So we'll continue to analyze and evaluate the market. We'll continue to analyze our order book and our footprint and the impacts our decisions have on our profitability this year, and we will make the decision most optimal for the business.

Christopher Terry -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Okay, thanks. And then the last one for me. It's Slide 24 in the presentation I'm looking at, the $1.6 billion of capital needs, where you split up the way that you'll finance the business. Just wondering if you can comment a little bit on expected cash generation over that time. You've obviously allocated all the capital buckets through other means other than actual cash off the business, so just wondering your thoughts on what you'll generate.

And then also, given the capital needs in front of you, just wondering whether you could comment on the $70 million of shares you repurchased in the first half of the year and why that's done when you need the capital for these projects. Thanks.

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Okay. I'll take that. We're not going to comment on free cash flow expectations. Clearly we're going to be in investment mode here for the next couple of years. And that's going to put some pressure on free cash flow. But as you guys know, the balance sheet is in a great position to handle that. But we're not going to kind of forecast EBITDA out over the long term. You comment on the share repurchase, right?

We announced that program, $300 million over a two-year period. You can see now, through June and the first seven months of the program, we've extinguished about half of that. So we're pleased with our utilization of the share repurchase program. However, as we get into this mode of investment, we're pretty excited about the return prospects obviously. And we're looking at what's going on in the market and within the company. And you can expect us to pace the level of share buybacks that you've been seeing over the last couple of quarters, so you can expect a slowdown in the utilization of the program for a while as we kind of move into full-on high-return investment mode.

Operator

And the next question comes from the line of Karl Blunden with Goldman Sachs. Please proceed with your question.

Karl Blunden -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning, guys. Thanks for taking the question. Just with regard to the financing for the investments that you've outlined on the slide, it's a very helpful slide, and I think it helps us understand the range of sources that you have. I guess, two questions related to that. If there are cash flow shortfalls, does the plus there on the high-yield market imply that that's where it will be made up?

And then, as you think about timing, looks like the high-yield markets have been by far the most volatile of all these sources of financing, so how do you think about market risk, with the high-yield market being relatively stable right now, potentially prefunding that and leaving sort of the more stable sources for another time?

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Karl. Appreciate the question, yeah, the high-yield piece being higher, we're pretty pleased with the way our bonds have been trading in an improved fashion, certainly not where we want them to be, but the healing has been occurring over the last several weeks as you point out. We're hoping that that continues. Can the high yield portion be higher? Absolutely, but we've got a $1.5 billion ABL. The amount that we're comfortable drawing down on that could also be higher than what's indicated on that page. So, I would say, those are probably the two big toggle points depending on what's happening with the cash flow, a little more into the ABL or a little bit higher on the high yields or both.

Karl Blunden -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Got you. Then it's probably a small one, but the results actually came in quite well relative to your pre-announcement. Were there a couple factors there or just maybe some information wasn't available at the time of the pre-announcement in terms of the reported EBITDA versus the guide.

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, there were a few things that impacted, but the anchor tenet in the beat versus our guidance was, we were looking at the flooding situation that was happening and our ability to get shipments out to key customers. The team, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, did a pretty good job of kind of toggling between different shipping alternatives and getting much more out than we expected in those last couple of weeks to some pretty important customers. So it was actually increased shipping at pretty good VCMs that drove a good percentage of that upside versus the guide.

David Burritt -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Frankly we were impressed with the team. The logistics teams at our plants and at corporate work so well together that they exceeded all of our expectations, and we're delighted that they're able to get that volume out the door when we didn't think it was possible.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Dave Gagliano with BMO. Please proceed with the question.

David Gagliano -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks. So just to keep along the same line of questioning on the financing side, and I think you may have kind of covered it off, but just to address it a little more directly. It looks like in our numbers we have about a $2.5 billion cash burn between now and 2022, we've got some somewhat optimistic price assumptions embedded in those numbers. So obviously you mentioned the debt side and the potential to upsize as well. Is equity also being considered as an alternative?

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

In the end, we'll consider all alternatives. We're not seeing that as a necessary option for us through this investment period. We're in really good shape coming into this. We came into 2019 with probably the best balance sheet we've had in 10 years. We've managed our maturity profile extremely well. So we're sitting in a really good position as we start this investment period.

Clearly we're going to be prudent. We're going to be disciplined in how we approach this. We're going to be acutely aware what's happening within our business and across the industry to make sure that we never put this company in harm's way, but I got to say we've got a lot of confidence here in our ability to execute on this funding approach. And we've got time on our side. We are aware of the market risks and we're going to manage those appropriately, but we're feeling really good in our ability to execute this without equity.

David Burritt -- President and Chief Executive Officer

And let me just add to that. I do think we've done a commendable job on cash over the last few years. And we have a balance sheet where we don't have a significant debt due until 2025. And meanwhile, we have a very disciplined process for managing cash and actually rewarding people up and down the company based upon cash conversion cycle times. So people can feel the pulse of cash in their pocketbook.

And so, frankly this is a weekly process. They get cascaded through the organization from our CFO and supply chain leaders so that everybody from top of the company through the operational side of the business understands that cash is king. And I think that's reflected in how we've been able to demonstrate a superior cash conversion cycle time over the last few years.

David Gagliano -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay, that's helpful. Thank you. And then just as a follow-up, switching gears to the near term. Thank you for the near-term market color as well. In terms of other drivers in the second half, can you just give us a little color on things like outage costs? I think there were about -- in total across the company about $50 million or something like that across the three segments. What should we assume for outage costs in the third quarter and fourth quarter, and any other major pluses or minuses?

Kevin Lewis -- General Manager, Investor Relations

Yeah, David, this is Kevin Lewis. So I think the second quarter was clearly a really important quarter for us related to planned outages and asset revitalization work. As we look at third quarter, we don't see any outages to that magnitude in the third quarter, so I would expect outage cost to be an opportunity in the third quarter and for the rest of the year. So, I think most of the work is behind us. Second quarter is really an important quarter for us, and we execute extremely well.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Timna Tanners with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Please proceed with the question.

Timna Tanners -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Yeah. Hey, good morning. Happy Friday. I wanted to follow up on the cash questions. The cash position was the lowest that I saw since Q4 of 2013. Is there a minimum level that you'd manage for or can you talk to that a little bit just from the balance sheet?

And then if I could also, I wanted to hear a little bit more about the Clairton situation given there is another fire and you put out a release. We haven't really heard from you on that topic. Is this behind us now and will the payment suffice all of the concerns from the air quality management district? Are there other potential liabilities related to that?

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Timna, I'll start with the cash. And we're looking to maintain a minimum cash balance of $0.5 billion through the investment period as well as a minimum of ABL access of $1 billion. And as of now, we're also looking to retain our secured financing capacity, and right now that sits at about $1.2 billion. So we're -- that's kind of how we're looking at liquidity and secured capacity through the investment period as of now.

Timna Tanners -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay. Regarding Clairton...

David Burritt -- President and Chief Executive Officer

This is another of these multipart questions. So the second part of your question, I believe, was related to Clairton. On June 17, we had this very small electrical disruption that impacted the desulfurization process. We had full restoration of the desulfurization process within the day without any exceed incidents recorded by the ambient air monitors that day. So basically, even on the worst day, we were in compliance. There was no material financial impact from this intraday event, and that facility is running exceptionally well. Of course, we do have pending litigation, and we don't comment on any litigation.

Operator

And the next question comes from the line of Matt Fields with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Please proceed with the question.

Matt Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Hey, everyone. Thanks for the clarity on the on the funding and financing questions. I want to beat a dead horse, but I'm going there too. The slide on Page 24 that shows the investments by year is very helpful, but I was hoping to get like a more holistic picture of your cash needs for that time period. I know there's still about $1 billion left on the asset revitalization program between '19 and '20; $200 million that you're going to have to spend at Clairton as part of the agreement with the health department; and then sustaining capex, which would be about $875 million per year, based on Slide 21, before the investments are done. So can we get maybe a breakdown of your sort of total capex and investment needs for those '19, '20 and '21 buckets?

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes, I don't think we're going to give that, Matt. We're not going to forecast out all the specifics of capex and cash flow. Obviously, it'll depend on what the market brings us in terms of pricing and then EBITDA potential, so we're going to stay away from that for now.

Matt Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Is the general kind of amounts that I mentioned sort of about right if -- they might be up or down at any given year, but are those the right way, the sort of aggregate buckets the right way to think about it?

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

I think your outline is fair. Obviously we're going to continue with our revitalization as planned and complete the strategic projects. So, the mathematical walk, I think, is directionally correct.

David Burritt -- President and Chief Executive Officer

I think an important point here with all these things is, we need to be nimble, we need to adapt, and we're going to make sure that we manage the cash needs to ensure that we execute these strategic projects and secure this long-term future. It's really important that we continue to focus on cash, and I think we've demonstrated that we can manage this well. And frankly, we're going to spend some money for a time in order to get the kinds of returns that our stockholders deserve.

Matt Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thank you. And if I can ask a follow-up: In Europe you mentioned that 3Q will be kind of below 2Q. Are you getting hit on carbon pricing in that market? Are you sort of getting a step down in free carbon credits? Is that leading to part of that?

Kevin Lewis -- General Manager, Investor Relations

Yeah, I think, that's fair. Certainly carbon costs, CO2 credits have become more expensive and were certainly a headwind in the second quarter and expected to continue throughout the rest of the year. Certainly the raw materials dynamics that are occurring in Europe and the dislocation on steel prices is another headwind given the kind of the import -- the high levels of imports that continue to occur. So multiple moving pieces. Carbon is definitely one of them, in addition to the kind of the steel pricing levels as well as the continued raw material challenges.

Operator

And the next question comes from the line of John Tumazos from John Tumazos Very Independent Research. Please pursue the question.

John Tumazos -- John Tumazos Very Independent Research -- Analyst

Thank you for taking my questions. Concerning the tubular melt shop you're building, do you have an electrode contract and supply lined up, first? Do you intend to be selling slabs with melt capacity, I guess, 1.6 million tons more than the seamless mill capacity? And third, what grades of scrap would you or pig iron would you be buying for a seamless production, as opposed to carbon slab third-party sales? And excuse me.

Just for the other analysts, Clairton is where the stars of the Deer Hunter movie in 1977 were from or won the Pennsylvania state championship four years in a row. Tyler Boyd of the Bengals went to Clairton high school in Pitt. Clairton is an over-the-counter pharmaceutical. Excuse me.

David Burritt -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Wow, there's a lot in all of that [Indecipherable] thanks for the history lesson too. I'll just turn it to Kevin here in just a minute. I was actually there a couple weeks ago, and I can tell you the execution on the electric arc furnace is going very well. I can tell you the group down there is incredibly energized. Again, we're focusing on, on time, on budget and delivering the value that we must deliver here.

Kevin, as far as the other question, you'd take those or that's another, like, three or four questions at once, makes it a little tough.

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, sure. Yeah, no, no. So I think -- on the procurement side, I think, the team is well positioned to make sure that we have all procurement items lined up and ready to go. The project management team continues to be on track, so I think we're in good shape there. From a slabs perspective, as we've talked about before, we're really not looking to -- for a slab production as a way to justify this investment. So it's not currently in the business case. We're currently focused solely on rounds production, construction of the EAF as well as enhancements to the rounds caster. So the insourcing of rounds continues to be the anchor tenet in the business case, and that's how we see us using and leveraging that asset on a go-forward basis.

Operator

[Operator instructions] And our next question comes from the line of Nick Jarmoszuk with Stifel. Please proceed with your question.

Nick Jarmoszuk -- Stifel -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning. Back to the capital raise questions. So with the five debt buckets that you presented on Slide 12, how do you think about which are the first dollars coming in? And which would be the last dollars you'd be raising?

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

I think the environmental bonds, given the EAF project is under way, is probably something we would do in the early stages. And I would also -- as we move forward on the Mon Valley, I think we'll be looking at the vendor-supported financing as well. The ABL upsizing could happen pretty much at any time, so I'd say those are probably the three on the front end. But again, the high yields component, we're just looking to be opportunistic. That will be a chunk of it, but we've got some time. We think the healing in that market has been positive, but we'd like a little bit more before we commit to something on that tranche.

Nick Jarmoszuk -- Stifel -- Analyst

If I interpret your answer to one of the earlier questions correctly, it sounds like you would only issue unsecured debt because you want to keep the $1.2 billion of secured issuance always available. Is that accurate?

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, we are. That's our preference. We're not ruling out secured, but we'd like to keep that secured capacity. And we see that as an important part of our risk mitigation, so we'd like to keep as much of that $1.2 billion available as possible but not ruling out secured debt as an option to fund this.

Nick Jarmoszuk -- Stifel -- Analyst

To be really clear on this, we think we have the type of flexibility that -- to run this business well with these strategic investments, but we will pace things appropriately. If we can move faster because the business is healthier, we'll move faster. If we need to pull back a little bit, we'll do that as well. We're going to adapt and be nimble to whatever comes our way because we've got to get these things done. And so far, I'm really encouraged with the execution capability that the team is showing on the projects. So we have a flexible balance sheet, much more than in the past, so we're going to get it done.

Okay. And then last question, on the idled blast furnaces. How long would you keep those on maintenance before you would look to make a final decision as to whether you would permanently decommission them?

David Burritt -- President and Chief Executive Officer

With all these things, we always start with the customer, right? We have to understand what the customer needs are, what's the order book. And we want to make sure that we're able to sell the value and create the value for our stockholders, and again this is at the appropriate pace at the appropriate time, and we'll make sure that we manage that well.

Nick Jarmoszuk -- Stifel -- Analyst

Well, let's assume that we stay in this sort of $600 HRC environment. I can't imagine that you would bring them back online. So if we stay in the $600 zip code, would you go two years, three years before you make a final decision? And ultimately I think that will be a positive for the market because then there is not going to be this ongoing threat of having two blast furnaces coming back online and flooding the market.

Kevin Lewis -- General Manager, Investor Relations

I would say what we're looking for and what really influences our decision making is sustainable improvements and market conditions that have a positive impact on our order book. So we will continue to assess the market, the sustainability of improvements.

And as Dave mentioned, we always make decision that's in the best interest of the enterprise and one that allows us to service our customers with the highest levels.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Paretosh Misra of Berenberg. Please proceed with your question.

Paretosh Misra -- Berenberg Bank -- Analyst

Thank you. Thank you for taking my question. Can you talk about what are you seeing in the U.S. domestic market? I mean there have been three price increase announced. What's been the customer response? How are the customer inventories? And any other color on different end markets which markets are strong, which are weak? Thank you.

David Burritt -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, sure. So I think it's clear to everybody, certainly if you look at index prices, that we reached a bottom in late June. four weeks of consecutive price increases for CRU is certainly a positive indication. Our business is still going to be impacting the third quarter, as Kevin mentioned in his prepared remarks, given the flow-through on our adjustable contracts. So we probably still have a little bit of that market downturn in 2Q yet to feel, but indications are positive. Lead times have extended to over five weeks. That is certainly an encouraging sign.

Market chatter on scrap price is certainly positive and suggests that the positive momentum is enduring. And market demand is generally strong. So like I said, we have positive indications of continued positive momentum, but we will have a little bit of a flow-through through the Flat-Rolled business here into 3Q. So hopefully that answers the question.

Paretosh Misra -- Berenberg Bank -- Analyst

Yeah. Thank you. And just as a follow-up, on Tubular, how should we think about costs in Q3 lower steel prices, will that be a tailwind next quarter?

Kevin Lewis -- General Manager, Investor Relations

Yeah, I think, when we look at the Tubular business, we generally describe that business as relatively stable. Certainly what you're seeing from an end market perspective is demand has been a little bit soft, but rig efficiency has certainly been better. So steel demand, not terrible. Imports remain in pretty high levels of demand, which is kind of having some pricing pressure. But we're going to continue, obviously, with the execution of the EAF construction, which will have some cost impacts in the quarter on a go-forward basis, but the Tubular business is looking pretty stable as we look ahead.

Operator

And Mr. Lewis, I'll turn the call back over to you for your closing remarks.

Kevin Lewis -- General Manager, Investor Relations

All right, thank you. With that, I will hand you over to Dave to conclude today's call.

David Burritt -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, everyone, for your interest in U.S. Steel. Before we sign off, I want to reinforce a few key messages. We are making this business stronger and more competitive. We are turning our strategy into action by executing to drive capability and cost improvements through investments in technology to differentiate in the most strategic markets, supported by an asset base that can offer the market with thick- and thin-gauge products and everything in-between; become the best of both integrated and mini mill technology; leverage the competitive advantages of an integrated steel mill producer while investing in state-of-the-art, sustainable steel technology.

Finally, to our employees, I know I speak for the entire leadership team when I say thank you. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for your commitment to safety, and thank you for your focus on protecting our shared environment. We have made great progress and our future is bright. Now we'll get back to work.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 49 minutes

Call participants:

Kevin Lewis -- General Manager, Investor Relations

David Burritt -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Christopher Terry -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Kevin P. Bradley -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Karl Blunden -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

David Gagliano -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Timna Tanners -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Matt Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

John Tumazos -- John Tumazos Very Independent Research -- Analyst

Nick Jarmoszuk -- Stifel -- Analyst

Paretosh Misra -- Berenberg Bank -- Analyst

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