ArcelorMittal Italia initiates restart of blast furnace 2 at Taranto site: sources

ArcelorMittal Italia is in the process of restarting blast furnace 2 at its site in Taranto Jan. 26 as it aims to boost crude steel output in 2021 to 5 million mt from 3.4 million mt produced in 2020, union sources told S&P Global Platts.

The company already restarted melting shop 1 this week, union sources said.

Blast furnace 2 and melting shop 1 had been temporarily shut as coronavirus lockdowns depressed demand for steel and the company adapted the blast furnace to safety standards demanded by Italian judges following a fatal accident in June 2015.

Of the company’s five blast furnaces, only 1 and 4 are currently fully operational, producing 14,000 mt/day of crude steel.

ArcelorMittal declined to comment when contacted by Platts.

Work on the blast furnace number 2 was carried out by Ilva, which owns the site and rents it to ArcelorMittal Italia, at a total cost of about Eur10 million.

Blast furnace 5 is the largest blast furnace in Europe with a production capacity of around 3.5 million mt/year and 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.

Unions told Platts that they are expecting the green light from the EU to allow Invitalia, Italy’s agency for investment promotion and enterprise development, to form a public-private partnership for the former Ilva steel operations. Sources suggested the antitrust green light is expected by the second week of February.

ArcelorMittal announced late 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 agreement for Ilva’s business in 2018.

Invitalia will invest in AM InvestCo in two tranches: the first investment will be of Eur400 million and the second tup to Eur680 million, payable on closing of AM InvestCo’s purchase of Ilva’s business by May 2022, at which point Invitalia’s shareholding in AM InvestCo would reach 60%.

— Annalisa Villa