Steelmaker HBIS Serbia to restart idled BF next week

Serbia’s sole flat steel producer, Hebei Iron and Steel Serbia (HBIS Serbia), is going to restart one of its two blast furnaces (BF) after several months of downtime, several sources told Fastmarkets on Friday March 10. HBIS Serbia stopped its smaller BF in July 2022 due to prolonged poor demand and falling prices, Fastmarkets reported at the time.

Several sources familiar with the matter told Fastmarkets that the company is going to restart the idled BF in the week beginning March 13.

“They [HBIS Serbia] will be running with two BFs for three months and then stop one BF for maintenance during summer [2023],” one source told Fastmarkets.

HBIS Serbia did not reply to a request for a comment by the time of publication.

HBIS Serbia operates two BFs with combined capacity of 2.2 million tonnes per year of pig iron. The company produces hot-rolled and cold-rolled coil, and tinplate products.

Flat steel prices across Europe started to recover this January, supported by limited supply and restocking activity.

In February, Fastmarkets’ daily steel HRC index, domestic, exw Northern Europe averaged €768.42 ($811.72) per tonne. This was up by €48.06 per tonne from a monthly average of €720.36 per tonne in January.

A number of European steel producers have restarted steelmaking capacities since the beginning of 2023 as a result of the potential for improved profits.

Meanwhile, some European HRC market participants worry that a gradual reignition of idled capacity bears a risk of killing the uptrend in flat steel prices in the second half of 2023 should end-user demand not recover.

Published by: Julia Bolotova