United States Steel Corp. says it is shutting down its blast furnace and steelmaking operations at its plant near Birmingham, Ala., this fall.

More than 1,000 U.S. Steel employees at Fairfield Works in the town of Fairfield will lose their jobs, NPR's Debbie Elliott reports. She adds:

"The nearly century-old plant once rolled steel used to build ships during World War I and was long the center of Birmingham's steel industry. It's located in the suburb of Fairfield, established by U.S. Steel as a planned company mill town in the early 1900s."

The company's president and CEO, Mario Longhi, said this is one of several difficult decisions U.S. Steel has made over the past year.

"We have determined that the permanent shut-down of the Fairfield Works blast furnace, steelmaking and most of the finishing operations is necessary to improve the overall efficiency and cost structure of our flat-rolled segment," Longhi said in a statement.

The company says the operations "would be permanently closed on or after Nov. 17. An adjoining pipe plant will remain open.

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