ArcelorMittal has temporarily idled a number of blast furnaces across Spain, Italy and France since March due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Now sources among trade unions are indicating that a swift reopening of these furnaces is not to be expected and further output reductions could be imminent in Italy.
In Italy the company halted blast furnace number 2 in Taranto in mid-March, whilst keeping numbers 1 and 4 running at a rate of some 8,000 tonnes/day of pig iron. This represented 50% of the run rate registered before the virus. This week local trade unions said in a press release that production levels are being reduced further to 7,000 t/day of pig iron and that BF2 is not being prepared for restart. This is despite the fact that Italy is easing its lockdown as from next week.
In Spain ArcelorMittal is discussing a new temporary layoff scheme with the unions (see related article). The first indications point towards one blast furnace at the mill in Gijon remaining idled in the coming months. The group also controls an EAF plant in Spain in Sestao for the production of flat products and this is also set to remain idled.
In the South of France ArcelorMittal idled one blast furnace at Fos-sur-Mer at the end of March, with a second expected to be idled by June, as confirmed by the company. The plant is going to maintain a minimum level of activity in order to be able to swiftly resume output when demand picks up, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region president Renaud Muselier said last week.
Spain, Italy and France have been the countries most hit by the coronavirus outbreak since beginning of March. Their economies are expected to suffer more this year compared to those of other European countries further north, Kallanish notes.