Stahl Gerlafingen goes for short working hours: reports

Swiss long products maker Stahl Gerlafingen is preparing to reduce its output in the following months because of rising energy costs. According to Swiss press reports, it has filed with the state government of Solothurn for support to introduce shorter working hours.

“The high energy prices are threatening our existence,” national daily NZZ quotes managing director Alain Creteur as saying. The paper cites an annual consumption of 360 gigawatt hours of power per year for the liquid phase in the electric arc furnace, plus 450 GWh/y of gas for the rolling process. In October alone, the mill would have to pay CHF 45 million ($46m), which is more than the annual cost in normal years, NZZ writes.

Such costs cannot be handed down to customers in the construction industry, which will try to import from neighbouring countries like Italy, France and Spain, Creteur warns. According to other reports, Stahl Gerlafingen is one of Switzerland’s biggest energy consumers, and the first big company in the country to file for short working hours. This has been approved and will initially last from October through December.

Neither Stahl Gerlafingen nor its parent, Beltrame Group, commented on the reports when approached by Kallanish. The Swiss mill makes merchant bar, sections, wide flange beams and rebar, rings and wire mesh. In 2019, it achieved revenue of CHF 370m, with an annual production of around 650,000 tonnes of finished products.

Christian Koehl Germany