AMP pushes back BF restart, unions express concern

ArcelorMittal Poland (AMP) trade unions have expressed concern that the steelmaker’s pushing back of the blast furnace no.3 restart at Dabrowa Gornicza could result in the unit being shut down for good.

At the turn of November and December, unions were informed that BF3, which was idled at the end of September due to deteriorating demand, would be restarted between 10 and 20 December. They have now been told this will happen in early January, but no date has been specified.

“It’s starting to resemble the situation at AMP’s Krakow works, which also saw the blast furnace restart pushed back a few times in 2020, before ultimately it was closed for good,” Lech Majchrzak, chairman of the Solidarnosc trade union at AMP, says in a note seen by Kallanish.

AMP says the market situation does not warrant the BF restart before year-end. Since the BF was idled, “we have been closely observing the market, the forecasts in terms of a possible rise in demand, the long-awaited improvement of European activity”, an AMP spokesperson says. “Unfortunately, this is not yet happening. And we do not see any signs of market recovery in the coming weeks. We still see that our order book continues to be at a level that remains below the minimum working point of two blast furnaces.”

“Regrettably, due to the mentioned reasons, we will not be able to restart the BF before the end of this year. We continue to be prepared for a restart of BF3; however, the exact date will depend on the market situation,” the spokesperson adds.

“This does not imply any changes to the commitments we have made related to the temporary stoppage. We continue to prepare a two BF operation and the BF3 will certainly be restarted before BF2 will be stopped for its modernisation,” she observes.

In early October, trade unions signed an agreement with the steelmaker that guaranteed BF3 will be restarted again in future and there will be no job losses as a result of the stoppage (see Kallanish passim). BF3 is to be restarted no later than when BF2 begins the shutdown process to carry out its long-awaited maintenance. This is most likely to happen next February or March. AMP management also confirmed it will strive to maintain the operation of both blast furnaces.

According to Majchrzak, because of the time required to restart and stabilise BF3 production, and then shut down BF2, the whole procedure has to be initiated by mid-January in order to be ready for March.

Adam Smith Poland