HBIS Serbia ramp-up to ease flat steel supply

HBIS Group Serbia Iron & Steel plans to restart its blast furnace No.1 in Smederevo on 16 August, the company says.

This blast furnace was shut down in July 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and market situation that prevailed at that time, the enterprise says.

“During the last 11 months, only blast furnace No.2 was in operation, which proved to be a good strategic decision for the time being,” HBIS Serbia observes. “The current market situation has created favourable conditions for restarting blast furnace No.1, whose production capacity will depend on market requirements.”

The company declined to provide Kallanishwith information on planned output.

Its BF restart is significant, however, given the shortage of steel currently seen in Europe, especially for flat products. With ArcelorMittal’s Italian joint venture producing at limited capacity utilisation, and question marks arising over the future of Liberty Steel’s plants in Europe, the additional flat steel supply will be welcome by steel buyers. As Serbia is outside the EU, however, its steel is subject to safeguard measures.

In 2020, the plant operated in line with the business plan. “In the fourth quarter of last year one blast furnace produced steel at the same level as was done in the second quarter with two blast furnaces,” says company executive director for production Vladan Mihailovic.

HBIS intends to continue operating in Serbia, which is best reflected by ongoing investments that will dramatically improve the environment in Smederevo, he adds. These investments amount to $140 million.

The group’s crude steel production capacity was around 2.2 million tonnes/year before the pandemic. Its product range comprises hot and cold rolled coil, pickled coil and electrolytic tin plate.

Svetoslav Abrossimov Bulgaria