Integrated steelmaker SSAB posted an operating loss of SEK 325 million ($38.7m) in 2020, impacted by lower revenue and uncertainties created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the outlook for the first part of 2021 remains positive, continuing the encouraging momentum seen during the fourth quarter of 2020.
“Demand for steel during the first quarter of 2021 is estimated to be good, driven both by underlying demand and by customer restocking,” SSAB says in its annual results statement. “Nevertheless, there is still uncertainty as to how the development of Covid-19 will affect demand. Global demand for high-strength steel is estimated to be good during the first quarter.”
In Q4 the company saw consolidated crude steel production grow over 40% quarter-on-quarter to over 2.1 million tonnes. This output, supported by the restart of an idled blast furnace at the Raahe site, was higher than output in any other quarter in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Shipments also jumped some 29% q-o-q in Q4, to return to pre-Covid-19 levels, Kallanish notes.
Going forward the company continues to focus on its target to become fossil free by 2045. “We continue work on being the first to market, in 2026, fossil-free steel. The world unique HYBRIT pilot plant was inaugurated during 2020 and it was decided to bring forward the start of the demonstration plant by three years,” says SSAB chief executive Martin Lidqvist.
The environmental transformation of its assets was also mentioned as one of the reasons for breaking off negotiations with Tata Steel last week over the possible acquisition of the latter’s Dutch unit.