Deteriorating market keeps USSK blast furnace idled

US Steel does not expect to restart the idled blast furnace at its Kosice (USSK) plant before year-end, as it continues to struggle with squeezed margins and a high level of steel imports into Europe.

USSK said in June it was idling blast furnace no.2 due to higher costs and lower demand, while in July it said it planned to lay off 2,500 workers by end-2021 in order to cut costs (see Kallanish passim). To date the firm has eliminated 1,800 positions.

“In Europe, market conditions have continued to deteriorate, as the dislocation between steel selling prices and raw material costs continues to result in significant margin compression,” US Steel observed this week. Considering the BF will remain idled, USSK’s 2019 shipment guidance remains at 3.6 million net tons.

In the first half of 2019 USSK’s shipments fell -9% on-year to 2.07mnt. Raw steel output fell -11% to 2.31mnt and capacity utilisation was down 12 percentage points to 93%. Ebitda slumped -92% to $19m.