Romanian steelmaker Liberty Galati to restart its only blast furnace in March

Liberty Galati, the largest integrated steel producer in Romania, will resume pig iron and steel making operations in full after restarting its only blast furnace in March, parent company Liberty Steel said Feb. 21.

Flat-rolled steel producer Liberty Galati will restart blast furnace No. 5 in mid-March 2023 on signs of market recovery in Europe supported by improvements in input costs and pricing.

The furnace has undergone a Eur3.67 million maintenance program since December, which has increased its safety, stability and optimized energy use, the company said.

Blast furnace No. 5 achieved 2.1 million mt hot metal output in 2021, the year when the mill also produced its 12-year record high of 2.35 million mt of steel. Liberty Galati did not disclose its Romanian site production for 2022 though.

The company is currently in the process of choosing an electric arc furnaces supplier for the Romanian mill. As part of the Eur1 billion ($1.1 billion) transformation designed to make the Galati plant carbon neutral by 2030, Liberty previously said Galati will see new hybrid EAFs replace older more polluting blast furnaces at the works by 2025.

“We’re also well underway with feasibility studies for the relocation [to Galati] of the plant and equipment from [Dongbu] Steel in South Korea,” said Ajay Aggarwal, president of Liberty Steel Europe and board chairman of Liberty Galati.

Liberty committed to purchase the Dongbu steel plant and its associated equipment from South Korean steel company, KG Steel, in November 2022. The asset comprises two modern electric arc furnaces, two thin slab continuous casters, and a hot strip mill, S&P Global reported earlier.

The company is also considering a spring restart of a blast furnace at its other Eastern European mill, according to several sources, who mentioned slab shortage as a growing issue in Europe. Liberty refused to comment on the restart.

Liberty Ostrava, its flat and long rolled steel and pipe producer in the Czech Republic, idled one of its two blast furnaces (No. 2) for a Eur9.5 million upgrade in July 2022 and continued operating the remaining No. 3 furnace and rolling mills, as S&P Global reported earlier.

— Maria Tanatar, Ekaterina Bouckley