Idled Hungarian steel mill Dunaferr to return to market towards end-February: sources

Hungarian integrated flat steel producer Dunaferr is expected to return to the market with coil offers in late February to March, according to two market sources.

The sources told S&P Global Commodity Insights Feb. 1 that the steelmaker was planning to keep its blast furnaces idled and to use slab from Romanian steel producer Liberty Galati, which belongs to UK-registered Liberty Steel Group.

Spokespeople for Liberty and Dunaferr declined to comment on the matter

The 1.6 million mt/year steelworks has been idled since the third quarter of 2022, when it suspended its two blast furnaces, and went into administration about a month ago.

A mill representative last week confirmed that Liberty Steel’s specialists were investigating the restart of Dunaferr.

In the meantime, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán this week met with the team of temporary administrators appointed to run Dunaferr led by Lajos Mészáros (Fidesz), a member of parliament for Dunaújváros, the town where the mill is located.

“We are working to save Dunaferr,” he subsequently said on his Facebook page Feb. 1, adding that the mill had been damaged by the previous owners, company executives and finally EU sanctions against Russia.

According to Orban, the government will pay the wages of Dunaferr’s workers for the next six months, allocating Forints 16 billion ($45.4 million) for that purpose.

That should allow enough time for a suitable new owner to be found who can ensure reliable and stable operation at Dunaferr, an enterprise essential for Hungarian industry, said Orban.

Dunaújváros Mayor Tamás Pintér has made numerous public speeches saying that a key condition for any new owner would be to keep the liquid phase and operate the entire plant.

— Maria Tanatar, Ekaterina Bouckley