More European steel mills cut output, AM Bremen idles a blast furnace

More European steel mills announced Friday they are ramping down production as a direct consequence of decreased demand and further restrictions on public life in Europe, with ArcelorMittal Bremen idling a blast furnace.

ArcelorMittal Germany gave more detail Friday on its decreased output in Germany and said that it had idled one of its two blast furnaces at the flat steel plant in Bremen. The now idled BF had just been restarted in the beginning of January. The annual capacity of the plant is 3.6 million mt of crude steel. The steelmaker also slowed down production at its coking plant Bottrop and reduced working hours at its Eisenhuettenstadt flat steel operations.

While the Italian long steel producer Riva has been shut and Feralpi ceased production at one of its longs mills in Italy, the German subsidiaries of both companies are still producing.

Riva France was also producing, but a distributor said that deliveries from France were a problem.

Tata Steel Europe said it had made “production adjustments” at some of its European mills in the Netherlands and the UK, highlighting that the decrease at its major mills in IJMuiden, Netherlands, and Port Talbot, UK, have not been significant yet.

“While demand is steady in some sectors, production pauses in the European automotive sector are expected to have a knock-on impact on steel supply,” Tata Steel said.

GFG Alliance, which owns Liberty Steel mills across Europe, continues to adjust its steel and aluminum production to demand on a “plant-by-plant basis.”

Czech heavy plate and sections producer Vitkovice Steel confirmed to Platts the mill is operating at its normal levels with weekly output comprised of 10,000 mt of plate and 3,000 mt of sheet piling. Shipments to customers are taking slightly longer though due to a larger- than-normal accumulation of vehicles at border crossings and shipments to Italy being affected the worst. The Czech mill still receives orders from Italy, the company said.

The port of Antwerp – northern Europe’s import hub – said it would be “100%” operational. “At the moment Port of Antwerp has not seen any decline in the freight volume. However, it is expected that fewer ships will call at the port in the coming days and weeks because of the corona outbreak.”

Fifteen fewer large container carriers from Asia will call, corresponding to 115,000 mt of freight not being carried from and to China,” the port said.

— Laura Varriale, Ekaterina Bouckley, Viral Shah