Carmaker disruptions hit German mills hard

German steelmakers are under pressure from the coronavirus outbreak on the one hand, and production stoppages announced this week by carmakers on the other.

For ArcelorMittal, this means production cuts primarily at its strip mill in Bremen and Eisenhüttenstadt. Bremen will again idle blast furnace No.3, which was restarted only in early January following a stoppage since October, Kallanish is told by the company. It is currently holding talks with works councils about short working hours and further measures to prevent the spreading of the virus, says ArcelorMittal Flat Steel Germany chief executive Rainer Blaschek.

In a brief statement Salzgitter says it will reduce production at its strip unit as of this week. Thyssenkrupp steel says it “…will analyse the situation thoroughly these days to find out if and to which extent we need to adjust our production.”

In Austria, meanwhile, voestalpine is “…currently examining which production areas can continue to operate in compliance with all legal regulations, and which will need to significantly reduce operations or even be completely shut down.”

On the long product side, Schmolz+Bickenbach is the biggest supplier of SBQ steels for the automotive industry from its sites in Germany and Switzerland. “We are assessing the situation from plant to plant,” a spokesman says upon request. The company had already introduced short working in response to slackening demand from carmakers. “We expect in any case that production will be re-adjusted to the new low level of demand,” the spokesman says.