Liberty awaits orders to restart more Benelux lines

Liberty Steel is restarting activities at some coil lines in Liege, Belgium. Further restarts in Belgium and Luxembourg will be implemented as order books increase.

Liberty Liege received some 28,000 tonnes of hot rolled coil feedstock from its sister plant in Galati, Romania in June. This has supported the restart of tinplate packaging lines in Belgium. The company notes that demand in this sector remains “buoyant”.

At the Belgian unit, maintenance of the pickling tanks for the Galva 5 line started at the end of June and should continue until the end of July. Thereafter, a restart will be possible once sufficient orders are received.

In Luxembourg, the company restarted production at the Dudelange line in mid-July for a few days, but activity stopped again due to the lack of orders, Kallanish understands from local trade union sources.

“We are firmly convinced that the last quarter of this year will allow us to make good progress in our recovery plan,” says Liberty Steel EMEA chief executive Toker Ozcan. “While the economic situation is not making it easy for us, our teams are working hard to get there.”

“Over the past two months, the European galvanised steel market has seen a sharp decline – due in large part to the Ukrainian conflict’s impact on already high energy prices coupled with a rapid increase in inflation,” he continues. “Stockpiling in March/April by customers is also having an impact on current demand and pushing sale prices down. This makes it difficult to generate the sales volumes needed for regular production.”

“However, our order books are developing so we are preparing our lines and ensuring our raw material stocks to be ready to start production as soon as the order book allows it,” Ozcan concludes.

Earlier this year, a Belgian court ordered the liquidation of the local unit of Liberty Steel, but the company won an appeal against this decision in May.

Liberty Steel’s Belgium-based assets include a series of lines for packaging steel located in Tilleur and two hot-dip galvanising lines located in Flemalle. The units can produce up to 1 million tonnes/year of HDG and 200,000 t/y of packaging products. They were acquired by Liberty from ArcelorMittal in 2019. Liberty Steel also controls HDG capacity in neighbouring Luxembourg.

Emanuele Norsa Italy