ArcelorMittal Spain idles blast furnace amid furlough negotiations

ArcelorMittal says it has initiated the shutdown of blast furnace A at its Gijón mill in northern Spain. The move was initially announced at the beginning of September.

The process begun on Tuesday night with the reduction of the furnace load and the consequent salamander tapping, Kallanish notes. According to the steelmaker, the temporary stoppage has been prompted by the uncertain economic scenario and poor market conditions.

“The stoppage, in principle, is for a minimum period of three months,” explains ArcelorMittal. “We hope that BF A can resume operations as soon as possible, although we will have to wait and see how the market situation evolves.”

The stoppage will mean ArcelorMittal also has to reduce activity at its other Spanish sites, most notably at the Avilés hot strip mill and cold rolling line.

In late August, ArcelorMittal announced it was delaying the restart of operations at its Acería Compacta de Bizkaia (ACB) plant in Sestao and had no visibility of when it will be able to recommence regular activity (see Kallanish passim).

Meanwhile, the company has resumed negotiations with unions to apply a temporary employment regulation scheme (ERTE) until the end of 2023, in the face of weakening demand and soaring energy prices. This will affect 8,300 employees at ArcelorMittal’s 11 Spanish mills.

Workers’ organisations are not willing to accept worse working conditions compared to the previous ERTE, requesting the company to guarantee almost 94% of their gross salary. According to unions, ArcelorMittal’s initial proposal was for 75%.

Todor Kirkov Bulgaria