ArcelorMittal to idle Gijon blast furnace due to ‘challenging’ European steel market

ArcelorMittal in Spain said Sept. 1 it will idle blast furnace A at its 4.5 million mt/year Gijon plant at the end of September, citing strong competition from imports and weak demand.

The move follows the steelmaker delaying the restart of its 2 million mt/year electric arc furnace at Sestao after concluding maintenance in August.

“The extremely challenging situation of the European steel market, with high levels of imports from non-EU countries and weak demand, have led to the decision to implement this measure in order to protect the profitability and sustainability of the company’s operations in Asturias,” the company said.

“This decision has been taken at a time of economic uncertainty and with weakening levels of confidence among steel consumers; the situation is compounded by high levels of imports from non-EU producers that are not affected by the increasing costs linked to the EU Emissions Trading System which adversely impacts the competitiveness position of European producers.”

The company said it supported a “carbon border adjustment mechanism that sets a framework in which each region, each country, must contribute in an equitable manner.”

The Gijon complex has two blast furnaces and forms an integrated complex with the nearby 4.2 million mt/year Aviles site, making it Spain’s largest steel production center.

Platts assessed HRC in South Europe at Eur750/mt ex-works Italy Sept. 1, down 10.3% since the start of 2022, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights data.

Ferroglobe shuts furnaces

Output cuts have been accumulating in Spain, with record power prices a major contributing factor.

Power demand from the iron, steel and alloy sector fell 27% year on year in July and was down 9% for January-July, according to a demand index from grid operator Red Electrica.

Spanish silicon and manganese ferroalloys producer Ferroglobe told S&P Global Sept. 1 that it would also shut down the two furnaces still in operation at its plant in Boo, Cantabria, until energy costs decreased.

Spain’s adjusted power price closed at Eur375.84/MWh for Sept. 2 delivery, 167% higher year on year.

Ferroglobe said it had temporarily shut furnaces at all its plants — Sabon, Boo and Monzon — producing silicon metal, silicon and manganese ferroalloys, with its only output coming from an offtake agreement with Sixth Street Partners and Ithaka Partners to use production capacity at Cee and Dumbria.

Meanwhile, stainless steelmaker Acerinox furloughed workers for 15 days from Sept. 1 at its 1 million mt/year Los Barrios facility. The temporary layoffs would impact the plant’s melting shop, hot rolling mill and hot annealing line, according to state news agency EFE.

Acerinox had not yet responded to requests for comment by the time of publication.

— Gianluca Baratti