Several coil mills in northwestern Europe are restricting output, preferring maintenance over production in a market that does not call for large volumes, Kallanish notes.
ArcelorMittal Bremen currently has both blast furnaces taken out of operation for one week, an unusual state for an integrated mill. It shut down blast furnace 2 for the whole of October for repair and maintenance work. In addition, blast furnace 3 was closed for a “block shutdown” of five days with no specific cause given. The two units have a combined production capacity of 3.6 million tonnes/year of pig iron.
In mid-August, Salzgitter started the reline of its blast furnace A. That measure was already planned last year, whereas Bremen’s measures were communicated at short notice and therefore appear to have been triggered by the market situation.
At Tata Ijmuiden, blast furnace 6 is currently undergoing a major repair and modernisation programme. As is the case at Salzgitter, this will in fact be the last time that Ijmuiden undertakes such a large-scale operation on a blast furnace.
The measures will relieve the market at least somewhat, according to one German buyer. “Bremen has stopped offering plain HRC online,” he says, and notes that the stoppages there came unexpectedly for him, too.
A German service centre manager bemoans that “spontaneous” measures like in Bremen have come too late. He also criticises the mills for the recent massive price reductions, because “you do not generate demand with that”.
Christian Koehl Germany