ArcelorMittal to halt blast furnace in Spain’s Asturias as steel industry seeks lockdown clarity

Steelmaker ArcelorMittal said Wednesday that it will temporarily shut down Blast Furnace A at its site in Austurias in Spain on May 7 because most of its customers have suspended production due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Asturias site has two blast furnaces with a combined capacity of 4.2 million mt a year of crude steel. Blast Furnace A has a capacity of around 2.7 million mt/year, according to S&P Global Platts data.

ArcelorMittal also said it was suspending operations at its electric-arc furnace in Sestao to balance supply and demand. Sestao has a design capacity of around 1.4 million mt/year but a company spokesman said that since last year it had only been producing 300,000 mt/year of crude steel. The company produces materials for the automotive and general industry sectors.

The spokesman said the company had suspended production at its rolling mill in Lesaka which produces organic coating coils for the construction sector with an annual capacity of 250,000 mt/ year. Also the Sagunto rolling mills have been stopped as the mill produces 70% of its flat and longs materials for the automotive sector. Sagunto has a capacity of around 600,000 mt/year of galvanized steel. The 1 million mt/year Olaberria-Bergara lines for the automotive and construction sector are being kept in operation for the moment.

ArcelorMittal’s plans come as Spanish steel industry association UNESID said it was seeking clarification from the Industry Ministry about what counts as an essential industry. Under tighter measures to combat coronavirus only “strategically important sectors” will be allowed to continue operating.

A number of steel-consuming plants, such as auto factories, have been closed for the duration of the measures.

According to power demand data, consumption by the Spanish steel sector on Tuesday was 184 MW and metallurgy was 587 MW out of a total 843 MW of demand from interruptible consumers.

That marked a sharp drop from 842 MW for steel and 635 MW for metallurgy on March 3, before the measures, and compared with the last Tuesday in March 26, the drop, particularly for steel is even steeper, with figures of 1.589 GW for steel and 686 MW for metallurgy.

— Annalisa Villa, Gianluca Baratti