EU steel coil mill NLMK La Louviere aims to restart hot rolling operations early January

Belgian flat rolled steel producer NLMK La Louviere aims to resume hot rolling operations at its 1.7 million mt/year hot strip mill at the beginning of January, the plant’s parent company NLMK told S&P Global Commodity Insights Dec. 22, confirming that operations had been halted.

“We are dedicating all available resources and efforts, including winter maintenance shutdown period planned as of Dec. 16, to resuming the hot strip mill production,” said a spokesperson for Russian mining and steel company NLMK.

“We believe that restart of the production for most of our dimensions is possible in the beginning of January,” the spokesperson added.

NLMK did not specify the reason for the unplanned shutdown or when it started, but market sources said the plant had suffered “issues with their hot-strip mill and a fire.”

In its annual report for 2021, NLMK said the hot strip mill upgrade at NLMK La Louvière was ongoing with the first phase completed in 2021 and a second phase due to be completed in H2 2022 that would expand rolling capacity to 2 million mt/year.

The company declined to specify whether that project was nearing completion saying only that the hot strip mill’s capacity remained unchanged for now at 1.7 million mt/year.

NLMK La Louviere also has a 600,000 mt/year cold rolling mill, which has been temporarily offline since mid-December for planned year-end maintenance. It is due be restarted in early January, according to NLMK.

NLMK La Louviere last declared force majeure following a fire in July 2021.

The Belgium mill, a supplier of coils to the auto, machinery and construction industries, is part of NLMK Belgium Holdings, or NBH – a joint venture primarily between Belgium investment fund SOGEPA and NLMK. Apart from La Louviere, NBH owns strip mills NLMK Strasbourg (France) and NLMK Manage Steel Center (Belgium), and plate producers NLMK Clabecq (Belgium), NLMK DanSteel (Denmark) and NLMK Verona (Italy).

All the plants process slab that NLMK delivers from its Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works in west Russia.

In January-September, NBH made 1.4 million mt of steel products, 31% more than in the same nine months of 2021.

— Ekaterina Bouckley, Benjamin Steven