Taranto troubles continue for ArcelorMittal Italia

ArcelorMittal’s problems at the former Ilva plant in Taranto have continued this week. On Tuesday the unions and the management met with the Italian economic development minister Luigi Di Maio to discuss the possibility that ArcelorMittal would cease control of the plant in early September. Meanwhile a local court judgement has confirmed that the company should prepare to idle blast furnace number 2 at the site.

Reports in Italian media this week confirmed that the contract signed between ArcelorMittal and the Italian authorities allows ArcelorMittal to rescind the agreement in case rules are changed after the contract is signed. The company would therefore appear to be able to relinquish control of the mill as soon as 6 September, Kallanishnotes. This is when the current decree could remove the existing legal safeguards in place to protect the group from incurring liability for environmental issues that occurred before it took control of the plant.

Di Maio explained during a meeting with the unions and the representatives of ArcelorMittal on Tuesday that legal immunity will not be given back to ArcelorMittal, despite the threats of closure. He assured that ArcelorMittal would not have problems as long as it respects the environmental plan, but this might not be sufficient.

Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, a local magistrate ordered ArcelorMittal to begin procedures to temporarily idle blast furnace number 2 of theTaranto plant. The request is linked to the conclusion of an investigation following a fatal accident which occurred in 2015.

ArcelorMittal could well come to an agreement with the magistrate over new remedies to ensure the safety of blast furnace number 2 and keep it open. This new issue at the mill however could well also impact the steelmaker’s upcoming decisions about running the former Ilva operations.