Acciaierie d’Italia workers to stage strike Sep 28, seek govt support over falling crude steel output

The workers’ representatives of Acciaierie d’Italia will stage a strike Sept. 28 in Taranto and seek government support against the company’s falling crude steel output and failure to step up progress toward ecological transition, local unions told S&P Global Commodity Insights Sept. 25.

According to metalworkers’ unions, Acciaierie d’Italia’s full-year 2023 steel production will reach about 2.5 million mt, well below the company’s target of 4 million mt.

Although “at the moment BF2 and BF4 are working as well as the melting shop 2 and rolling mill 2, the rest are not working,” a union said.

The steelmaker idled production at BF2 in July amid low demand, declining steel prices and high production costs, while the 3.5 million mt/year BF5 has been idled since 2015. BF2 was expected to restart production in the second half of the year, S&P Global reported previously, citing Franco Bernabe, chairman of Acciaierie d’Italia and president of DRI D’Italia.

“We need cash to make works maintenance and the funds promised for the DRI to produce low carbon steel,” another union said, adding that they are seeking to change the governance of Acciaierie d’Italia and will meet government representatives Sept. 27 to discuss the situation of the company.

At present Acciaierie d’Italia’s shareholding is held by the state financial body Invitalia (38%) and ArcelorMittal SA (62%).

“We want Invitalia, and therefore the Italian government to become the majority shareholder as well, as we urge to have the funds for the DRI,” a union’s spokesperson said.

In July DRI Italia, the company managing the installation of two DRIs in Italy, chose to work with Paul Wurth, an engineering company and technology provider for the global ironmaking industry two develop two DRI plants, one in the north of Italy for local steelmakers and the other for Acciairie d’Italia. However, the Italian government has since withdrawn its Eur1 billion investment from the PNRR, National Recovery and Resilience Plan, for the construction of the DRI.

The DRIs are considered essential to help Italian steelmakers reduce their dependency on scrap, a key raw material that is expected to become less available in the future.

Acciaierie d’Italia and DRI Italia declined to comment when contacted by S&P Global.

The PNRR is a strategic plan that aims to modernize and improve the Italian economy, making it more sustainable. It includes investments in various sectors, such as healthcare, education, research and innovation, digitalization, as well as infrastructure, which includes steel.

It is part of a six-year Next Generation EU program from 2021 to 2026, namely the Eur750 billion package.

The Italian government decided to withdraw the funds for the DRI as it thought the adoption of the DRI could be not done within 2026. Neither the Italian government nor Paul Wurth responded to queries when contacted by S&P Global.

Annalisa Villa