SSAB restarts blast furnace at Raahe

SSAB has restarted the blast furnace at its Raahe plant, which was taken out of operation in November, Kallanish heard chief executive Martin Lindqyist say during the group’s annual results conference on Friday.

By idling the BF, SSAB joined the trend of many European oxygen-route mills cutting capacity on account of very low demand. Also, Raahe’s restart is in line with BF resumptions at US Steel Kosice and ArcelorMittal Gijón. The motivation is slightly different, though, as SSAB had projected an outage for maintenance anyway, which it advanced in view of the overall market situation.

The European market remained weak during the fourth quarter; therefore, to adjust production, SSAB brought forward maintenance of the Raahe BF, the company states. The annual capacity of the BF at the Finnish mill is 1.3 million tonnes.

Another irregular occurrence lately, Lateqvist pointed out, are relatively high stocks of PCI coal stored at Öxelesund. With the Ukrainian invasion, SSAB immediately stopped its intake of Russian coal and looked for alternatives.

“When you look for new suppliers, you naturally buy more than you need,” he explained. “So, at the end of 2022, we had an inventory of more than 400,000 tonnes, while the normal is 200,000t.”

Christian Koehl Germany