Nippon means ‘opportunity’ for USSK, subsidy needed: government

The potential acquisition of US Steel by Nippon Steel is a “huge opportunity” for Slovakia and US Steel Kosice (USSK), but state support will be crucial to ensuring the plant is decarbonised, says Slovakian environment minister Tomáš Taraba.

Slovak government representatives met with Nippon Steel management in Tokyo earlier this month to discuss the future of USSK.

At a later working meeting with USSK trade union representatives, Taraba said it is a “priority” of his to modernise production, fulfil decarbonisation obligations and retain competitiveness at USSK.

“It is obvious that without the involvement of the state and cooperation with partners on both sides, it will not be possible to successfully push the Kosice steel mills towards decarbonisation,” Taraba says in a ministry statement.

“The guarantee of financial aid in the amount promised by the state of €600 million [$646m] is part of this, even if we were forced to guarantee these resources from other financial schemes compared to those that were envisaged originally.”

USSK was guaranteed by the government last year funds for transitioning to electric arc-furnace based steelmaking.

A senior steel industry representative indicated last month that Nippon’s USSK takeover could be a good opportunity for the Japanese steelmaker to work with one of the Japanese carmakers in Central and Eastern Europe (see Kallanish passim).

USSK shipments rose 4% on-year in 2023 to 3.9 million net tons, while raw steel output grew 14% to 4.4mnt, with capacity utilisation at 88% versus 77% a year earlier.

Adam Smith Poland