Taranto explosions stop ArcelorMittal from idling meltshop

Three explosions disrupted production this week on Tuesday and Wednesday at blast furnace number 2 at the Taranto plant of former Italian steelmaker Ilva, now ArcelorMittal Italia.

The explosions happened during the shutdown of blast furnace no.1 but did not cause any fatalities, Kallanish learns from union sources in Taranto.

Last year BF no.2 was ordered to be closed down by a tribunal in Taranto, but the appeal court finally withdrew the shutdown request. The first order by the authorities to shut down the furnace was passed in early July 2019 and followed a fatal accident that happened in 2015 (see Kallanish passim). Since then, the issue has been central to the ongoing negotiations between ArcelorMittal and Italian authorities regarding the future of the integrated steelmaker.

Tuesday’s explosion took place while ArcelorMittal Italia was carrying out the shutdown procedure on BF no.1 in order to idle steel shop no.1 in Taranto from 23 January to 31 March. The producer decided on the idling due to the weak steel market. Output from steel shop no.1 was supposed to be temporarily moved to steel shop no.2, which was to run at full capacity.

The explosions, however, have caused extensive damage to the equipment and BF no.1 will for the time being remain in operation, guaranteeing production, the union source comments.

According to local press reports, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is to meet with the Mittal family at the world economic forum in Davos to continue negotiating on the future of Ilva.