Steelmaker ArcelorMittal moves to idle fourth blast furnace in EU this month

ArcelorMittal Poland said Sept. 8 it is temporarily suspending operations at one of its blast furnaces due to the market environment and high energy prices.

At the end of September, the company will stop blast furnace No. 3 — one of two blast furnaces, both installed at its plant in Dabrowa Gornicza, southern Poland. These are ArcelorMittal Poland’s only remaining operational blast furnaces after it permanently shut the blast furnace at its Krakow mill in 2020, a spokesperson for the company told S&P Global Commodity Insights.

The management of ArcelorMittal Poland decided to reduce metal production at Dabrowa steelworks after an in-depth analysis of the deteriorating market environment in recent weeks.

“We are observing a decrease in demand, and the order portfolio is below the level of technological operation of at least two blast furnaces,” ArcelorMittal Poland CEO Frederik Van De Velde said in a statement.

ArcelorMittal Poland does not disclose the capacities of individual furnaces, but the company’s factbook for 2014 says the mill in Dabrowa Gornicza has 4.4 million mt/year of pig iron capacity, meaning that taking one of the two furnaces offline will likely halve this potential maximal output.

ArcelorMittal Warszawa — another division of ArcelorMittal in Poland — does not have any blast furnaces; it has one electric arc furnace and this continues to operate normally, a spokesperson for ArcelorMittal Warszawa told S&P Global.

Aside from a slowdown in economic activity in Europe, the company also listed growing steel imports into the EU, record high prices of CO2 emission permits, and an increase in gas and energy prices, as the other reasons behind the decision.

In August, the EU Emission Trading System price for CO2 reached Eur99 ($98)/mt.

And earlier this month, ArcelorMittal said it would temporarily shut three blast furnaces at its mills in Bremen, Germany, in Gijon, Spain, and in Dunkirk, France, also citing weak demand and surging energy and emissions costs.

Eurofer, the association representing the European steel industry, was among a few associations to send a joint letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sept. 7 urging her to take decisive EU-wide action on gas and electricity prices.

— Ekaterina Bouckley