JSW Italy mulls EAF in Piombino: sources

JSW Italy may build an electric arc furnace in Piombino, as well as revamp the rail mill, sources close to the matter tell Kallanish.

Italy’s Ministry of Enterprises and Made in Italy (MIMT) signed this month a memorandum of understanding with JSW Steel to relaunch part of the troubled long steel facility in Piombino for an investment of €143 million ($155m).

JSW is vowing to double the Piombino rail mill capacity to 600,000 tonnes/year (see Kallanish 15 March). Part of its future investment is to build head hardening equipment and a tandem mill, with the aim of producing longer rails of 120 meters. The mill currently produces rails up to 108m, a source confirms.

The EAF project, still at a very early stage of development, may happen in a second phase. Due to the EU’s CBAM regulation, from 2026 the Piombino mill will not be able to import blooms from India and will be forced to produce them in-house. “Thanks to the revamp, JSW will be able to produce longer rails and intercept the large €1 billion order from the national railway company, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI). RFI is said to be ready to guarantee the order to JSW,” one source comments.

Last year, production at the Piombino rail mill was often disrupted due to delays in semis deliveries from JSW plants in India, but also amid weak orders. However, “there is no crisis in the rail market, but the €140m revamp is necessary to produce grades to reach certain EU nations where extreme cold or heat requires slightly different grades,” another source explains.

The rail mill is now idle for a week because of the late delivery of a vessel of semi-finished products from India. When Piombino’s rail capacity increases, an EAF to produce blooms will be necessary to guarantee constant and steady procurement of feedstock for rail production, particularly in view of the RFI order, the source argues.

In 2023, the mill is said to have produced approximately 20,000 t/month on average for about ten months, but this figure is unconfirmed by the company. MIMT minister Adolfo Urso, who visited the Piombino facility last week, said he expects the final binding agreement with JSW for the rail mill revamp to be signed by the summer.

JSW Steel is the $23 billion flagship business of the JSW Group. Its current capacity stands at 29.7 million t/y, but the company plans to increase this to 38.5m t/y by March 2025.

In Piombino, the steelmaker produces rails, bars and wire rod. At present, only the rail mill is operating, with 1,354 workers laid off until January 2025. The rail mill represents about 400 workers, a union source confirms. JSW did not respond to Kallanish request for comment.

Natalia Capra France