ArcelorMittal confirms Ghent blast furnace B to restart production by mid-Feb

ArcelorMittal is expected to restart furnace B at its site in Ghent, Belgium by mid-February, ArcelorMittal spokesman confirmed to S&P Global Platts on Feb. 1 while is still working to restart any time soon its BF2 in its site in Taranto, Italy, at its ArcelorMittal Italia mill.

The 2.3 million metric tonnes of crude steel a year Furnace B in Ghent was idled in September 2020 for relining. In Ghent, the company has two blast furnaces with a total capacity of 5 million mt of crude steel a year.

ArcelorMittal Italia blast furnace N2 at Taranto was supposed to restart on Jan. 26 but unions confirmed to Platts that they are still working on the new software of a new machine that was installed. Last week, unions said that BF2 could have restart at the beginning of the week but “hopefully it will restart in days”. BF2 restart is important because it will boost the company’s crude steel output in 2021 to 5 million mt from 3.4 million mt produced in 2020. The company has already restarted melting shop 1 in the week started Jan. 24.

The restart of the two ArcelorMittal Blast Furnaces in Belgium and in Italy will be good news for the coils market, as demand is reported still very good while the availability of flat products in Europe is tight with buyers that are reporting significant delays in the deliveries across all steelmakers.

AM Italia Blast furnace 2 and melting shop 1 had been temporarily shut last March, as coronavirus lockdowns depressed demand for steel, and the company adapted the blast furnace to newer safety standards. Of the company’s five blast furnaces, only 1 and 4 are currently fully operational, producing 14,000 mt/d of crude steel. BF4 will be temporary idle in March this year for refurbishment. AM Italia blast furnace 5, the largest blast furnace in Europe with a production capacity of around 3.5 million mt/year, was idled in 2015. Blast furnace 3 has a capacity of around 2 million mt/year of crude steel but was idled in 1994 and is due to be dismantled.

Some good news for ArcelorMittal Italia arrived Jan. 29, as the EC Antitrust gave its green light for Invitalia, Italy’s agency for investment promotion and enterprise development, to form a public-private partnership for the former Ilva steel operations.

ArcelorMittal announced Dec. 10 that it had signed a binding agreement with Invitalia for the public-private partnership. The agreement will result in a recapitalization of AM InvestCo, an ArcelorMittal subsidiary that signed the lease and obligation to purchase Ilva’s business in 2018. The greenlight was largely expected by the market but it came earlier than expected, giving more hope for the new entity to start the industrial plan.

— Annalisa Villa