Steelmaker Salzgitter to shut plant in Italy, sees no impact yet in Germany

German steelmaker Salzgitter will stop production at its special steel plant in Lombardy, Italy, temporarily this week as the coronavirus pandemic worsens, but sees no current effects on production or logistics at other sites, it said Monday.

Also, the start-up of one of its blast furnaces in Germany, which has been idled since last summer, will depend on the state the market. The restart was envisaged for mid-2020.

During a streamed briefing Monday on the company’s 2019 results, CEO Heinz Joerg Fuhrmann said the shutdown of the Italian plant would be done “in an orderly manner” over the course of this week.

The Lombardy plant, which produces stainless tubes, is located in one of the regions in Italy worst affected by coronavirus.

When asked by S&P Global Platts about disruptions in production and supply at mills and customers in Germany amid that country’s increased measures — such as introducing border controls over the weekend, Fuhrmann said there were none for now.

“We are not seeing any problems in the supply chain at the moment,” Fuhrmann said, adding future developments cannot be predicted.

No coronavirus impact at German sites

Fuhrmann said, however, that one of Salzgitter’s employees had contracted COVID-19 and colleagues of the employee were in isolation.

A German cold-roller said there were no current disruptions in the market but, looking at how steel demand in Italy has decreased due to shutdowns at car plants, there will be more reduced shifts at German companies supplying the automotive industry.

Salzgitter temporarily idled one of their blast furnaces last summer as a response to a decrease in steel demand.

As a result, crude steel production at the company dropped 6% to 6.6 million mt in 2019.

Production down on slow demand

Production of rolled steel at the flat steel division decreased 2.1% in 2019.

Rolled steel production decreased more heavily at the plate/section division where production shrank 17% in 2019 to 1.89 million mt, mainly due to lack of demand for plate.

Looking ahead, Salzgitter’s galvanizing line, which is under construction, and will produce “premium steel” for the auto industry was planned to be opened in 2022, while the treatment line for heavy plate will be opened in 2021.

— Laura Varriale