ArcelorMittal Dofasco has announced plans to make $87 million in upgrades to its coke-producing facilities over the next five years.

The Hamilton steelmaker will embark on the restoration of two of its three coke plants starting in 2014, Tony Valeri, the company’s vice president corporate communications and public affairs, said in a statement.

“The restoration these two plants will increase our efficiency and productivity, while improving environmental performance in this area of the steelmaking,” he said. 

ArcelorMittal Dofasco said the improvements won’t lead to increased staffing levels. However, Valeri said the steel giant will need to 1,500 people over the next five years to the void left by retiring employees.

The Hamilton company, owned by Luxembourg-based multinational ArcelorMittal, employs approximately 5,200 people.

One coke plant to close in 2015

This week’s announcement comes more than six months after ArcelorMittal Dofasco announced it will close its No. 1 coke plant by March 2015.

The six-decade-old plant has been a focus of a Ministry of the Environment (MOE) investigation into the steelmaker. Last March, the province laid 13 charges against ArcelorMittal Dofasco for allegedly violating air emissions laws.

The charges relate to the visible thickness, or “opacity,” of the emissions that came out of the steelmaker’s smokestacks between April and August 2012.

In December 2013, after months of delays, a date of March 27, 2014 was set for a pre-trial hearing into the case.

Strong year-end numbers 

ArcelorMittal Dofasco also announce this week that it had “its best overall performance” and highest employee performance payout since 2004.

The company wouldn’t release details on its 2013 earnings, but Valeri attributed the gains to an uptick in demand for automobiles as well as the performance of its employees.

“Canadian manufacturers face significant challenges and we’ve proven that despite these we are able to respond and deliver for all of our stakeholders.”