German automotive steel mills cut output

Germany’s steel mills serving the automotive industry have reduced their production significantly. All of them, including strip mills as well as those making speciality long products, had already reduced production during 2019, so the coronavirus measures have simply added to the pain.

thyssenkrupp Steel says it has adjusted all stages of production from the blast furnaces to the processing line, mainly due to the production cuts in the automotive sector. For reasons of competition, it declines to give the levels at which it is now operating, but denies that it plans to idle a blast furnace.

Indirectly, this is happening at its 50% subsidiary HKM (Hüttenwerke Krupp-Mannesmann). The steelmaker makes slab used in car bodies, and even more so for tube production which is also not faring all that well. One of its BFs will be shut down for repair until October, “… which wasn’t originally planned,” an insider tells Kallanish.

This had already happened at ArcelorMittal Bremen in September and at Salzgitter where the small blast furnace C underwent repair last year and remains out of operation. “We would rather increase production at A and B before restarting C,” a spokesman tells Kallanish.

Makers of special bar qualities for automotive purposes had all introduced short-time working even before the quarantine rules kicked in. This applies to Georgsmarienhütte, Saarstahl and Deutsche Edelstahlwerke (DEW).  “We have introduced short-time work, and defined further measures when presenting annual results in March,” a spokesman for DEW says. “We will definitely reduce production further to adjust it to the lower demand.”