Liberty Steel wins Hungarian state support for restarting Dunaferr steelworks: source

Liberty Steel has secured a deal with the Hungarian state allowing it to draw a credit line in state-owned EXIM Hungary in connection to Hungarian integrated flat steel producer Dunaferr, a source close to the matter told S&P Global Commodity Insights Feb. 16.

UK-registered Liberty Steel declined to comment on the state guarantee for the credit line, but its spokesperson confirmed that in the Dunaferr liquidation process, Liberty has proposed a series of steps to ensure business continuity at the steelworks.

The Dunaferr team has started to stabilize the company’s operations, which includes restarting blast furnace No. 2, running the coke ovens and ensuring a sustainable supply of raw materials, the spokesperson said.

“Further measures will be needed to ensure a sustainable future of the Dunaferr business in the long term,” he said, adding that Liberty was committed to using its experience to help Dunaferr take these steps.

Liberty Steel began to pay for raw materials and transportation fees, and has already supplied 40,000 mt of coal, all of which should ensure Dunaferr’s operations for several months, according to the source.

The capacity of the restarted furnace is 55,000 mt/month of pig iron. The other blast furnace at the mill that was stopped in August cannot be restarted at a reasonable cost, the source said.

Liberty Steel’s first request to Dunaferr was to produce 10,000 tons of hot-rolled coil for Liberty’s coil coating Liege and Dudelange operations in Belgium and Luxembourg, respectively; this way Liberty would like to restart the Liege and Dudelange mills, he said, adding that the mills have not been operating for some months, leading to discussions about their possible nationalization.

Since September 2022, Liberty Steel had been in negotiations with the administration of the Walloon region, where Liege mill is situated, for the region’s investment arm Sogepa to take a 49% stake in the plant and put up a loan for it to continue operations, as S&P Global reported previously.

— Maria Tanatar, Ekaterina Bouckley