A number of European steelmakers have decided to cut production by idling blast furnaces during the summer period, cutting production as steel demand remains weak.
Automotive manufacturers have consumed less steel because of lower car production rates caused by a shortage of components. Other end-users, including in the white goods segment, were also reported to show lower demand for steel.
A majority of European coil producers have been operating with reduced capacity in recent weeks and have planned longer summer maintenance works in an attempt to balance supply with reduced demand.
European distributors have sufficient inventories and, as a result, they have been avoiding restocking. A negative price trend in the EU flat steel market contributed to a wait-and-see approach among buyers.
Domestic prices for HRC have been declining in Europe since the second half of March because of weak demand. Platts daily assessments for HRC in Northern Europe declined to Eur780/mt ex-works Aug. 9, 15.4% lower than at the start of the year and down from the intra-year high of $1,460/mt reached March 18.
In the short run, output reduction should support price stability, with production to possibly increase if/when restocking starts.
ArcelorMittal’s Eisenhuettenstadt plant
- Operating at reduced capacity since Aug. 1 due to weak demand.
- ArcelorMittal applied for short-time work for August and September to lower production due to the tense economic situation from weak demand.
- ArcelorMittal has seen a sharp drop in demand for rolled products.
- The plant’s liquid lines are continuing to operate as normal, due to normal demand for slabs.
- The Eisenhuettenstadt plant produced 1.6 million mt of flat steel in 2021.
- ArcelorMittal previously shut blast furnace 5A at Eisenhuettenstadt on May 20 to replace internal cooling plates, among other maintenance, but started ramping it up July 7.
Salzgitter’s blast furnace C
- Delayed the restart of blast furnace C, idled in 2019, due to reduced demand and sufficient semi-finished supply from other sites.
- Blast furnace C has a capacity of 600,000 mt/year. Salzgitter’s total crude steel output exceeds 7 million mt/year.
- Stopped production at its plant, including its melt shop and rolling mills, for five weeks in August for summer maintenance work.
- Operates two EAFs in Cremona that feed 75% of the finishing operations there.
- EAF No. 1 has a capacity of 1.4 million mt/year of crude steel and furnace No. 2 has an expanded capacity of 2.6 million mt/year.
- Temporarily halted production at its 2 million mt/year blast furnace No. 2 since July 11 for about a month-and-a-half, according to trade union sources.
- Acciaierie d’Italia was also said to have temporarily idled a second blast furnace at the start of August, although it declined to comment.
- Market participants named high production costs (particularly for energy), limited demand and failed attempts to increase coil prices to the targeted level as the likely reasons for the move.
- Closed all production for four to five weeks over the regular two to three weeks to realign availability with currently minimal demand, according to market sources.
- The company’s 2022 steel production volume is likely be in line with the overall decrease in demand, with volumes down 3%-5% year o year.
ArcelorMittal’s Dunkirk steelworks
- A 1.5 million mt capacity blast furnace was idled July 12, following a run-down of operations.
- The furnace is being shut due to weak market conditions.
- The closure will leave hot metal capacity of 5.7 million mt/year operational at the site.
- The furnace’s expected restart date has not yet been announced.
- Closed galvanizing line from early July for relining.
- The NLMK Strasbourg site has a production capacity of 400,000 mt/year of HDG
Liberty Ostrava plant
- Temporarily idled its blast furnace No. 2 to carry out a Eur9.5 million ($9.7 million) repair and upgrade program.
- Maintenance to increase the stability and reliability of the furnace and reduce the inventory.
- Salamander tapping of the BF took place July 26.
- Maintenance work to include extensive repairs of the coolers and steel structures, as well as an upgrade to the furnace top, including the detection system.
- Plant’s blast furnace No. 3 and rolling mills are continuing to produce to serve customers.
- BF2 was previously idled in April 2020 for four months due to COVID-19, cutting production by 20%, meaning the current shutdown could continue for at least the same period of time, if not longer.
- Shut down one of its two blast furnaces by the end of July on unfavorable conditions, reduced demand in the global steel market.
- Blast furnace No. 1 has a maximum capacity of 900,000 mt/year.
- The furnace was previously restarted in August 2021 after HBIS Serbia shut it down in July 2020 because of unfavorable market conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
US Steel Kosice
- Market sources said one of three blast furnaces idled in an attempt to balance supply with low demand and to keep prices from dropping further.
- Company denied this on June 27.
- Operations at Ingulets and Southern iron ore mining and processing plants suspended since July 1.
- Operations at Northern GOK will be suspended from mid-July.
- Shutdowns due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Company will switch to using one blast furnace at its Kamet Steel plant in Kamianske.
- Central GOK to continue to operate at reduced capacity utilization levels.
- Central GOK has an iron ore beneficiation capacity of over 6 million mt/year, with 2 million mt/year of pellet capacity, while the group’s iron ore concentrate production hit 30.5 million mt in 2021.
— Maria Tanatar, Benjamin Steven, Jacqueline Holman, Staff