Liberty Steel hints at preparing Hungary’s Dunaferr for green transition after acquisition

Liberty Steel is now working on a green transformation of Hungarian steel mill Dunaferr after acquiring it via a tender last month, according to a company letter shared by an industry source with S&P Global Commodity Insights Aug. 15.

“The iron and steel works [of Dunaferr] has been saved, but now needs to be repaired and prepared for a sustainable long-term future,” according to a letter from Liberty Steel’s European chairman Ajay Aggarwal and its chief investment officer Sandip Biswas.

Just over a month ago, UK-registered Liberty Steel won the tender for Dunaferr. However, the sale is not yet completed, as the European Commission has yet to approve the acquisition, making the liquidator exercise ownership rights and take strategic decisions.

A spokesperson for Liberty Steel declined to comment on the content.

The letter mentions the understanding between the liquidator and Dunaferr’s management in relation to the challenging European market conditions and specifically high levels of foreign steel imports into the EU, high energy prices, and additional costs in meeting EU carbon emission standards, and the necessity to pause steel production as these conditions persist.

The liquidator has therefore agreed to Liberty’s suggestion to temporarily and for an unspecified period stop steel smelting and take offline blast furnace No. 2 — the last operational of the two BFs at the plant — and reduce the operation of the coke plant to a technological minimum, according to the letter. However, the rolling mill continues to process slab stocks, the letter added.

Liberty Steel since the end of 2022, when Dunaferr was in a bad state amid its major facilities shut down, has worked closely with the liquidator, helping the restart of Dunaferr’s blast furnaces and coke ovens, in addition to steel production and rolling mills.

Previously, Liberty Steel informed the market of the green transition in the works for its other major Eastern European mill and Romania’s largest steelmaker Liberty Galati. Just over a year ago, Liberty said it was about to hold a tender to select a supplier of hybrid electric arc furnace technology needed to produce low-carbon steel at Galati, but this was never completed.

Author Maria Tanatar, Katya Bouckley