Tata Steel Nederland to start relining No. 6 blast furnace first week April

Tata Steel Nederland, one of Europe’s largest steelmakers, will start “a massive modernization and reline program” at its IJmuiden steelworks’ Blast Furnace 6 in the first week of April, a company spokesperson said March 29.

During the furnace’s downtime, control systems and all refractories — materials that must withstand temperatures of about 1,500 C — will be replaced, spokesperson Peter van Boesschoten told S&P Global Commodity Insights in an emailed interview.

Various measures to limit environmental emissions under the steelmaker’s Roadmap Plus improvement program will be implemented during this period, including the installation of three additional exhaust hoods to limit dust. The increased extraction capacity should reduce dust emissions during hot metal tapping by about 75%, the spokesperson said.

“In order to protect the overall value chain, as part of preparation for this reline, sufficient stocks of steel slabs have been put in place to continue to operate the rolling assets to meet demand for our steel,” van Boesschoten said.

The length of the downtime was not immediately disclosed.

However, the spokesperson noted that the forthcoming stoppage “will be the last time we perform such a large-scale operation at a blast furnace.”

“As part of our decarbonization journey Blast Furnace 7 is expected to be the first to go out of operation, in 2030,” van Boesschoten said. “Blast Furnace 6 is expected to follow in the next decade.”

Blast Furnace 6’s CO2 emissions/mt of pig iron produced are among the lowest in the world, according to the spokesperson.

Tata Steel Nederland has previously announced it aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 35%-40% by 2030 and be completely carbon neutral by 2045. Across Europe, the company is implementing CO2-reducing measures at its locations, including a switch to green hydrogen-based steelmaking at its IJmuiden steelworks.

Cold mill task force

Tata Steel Nederland has meanwhile put into place a task force to resolve challenges encountered during the steelmaker’s upgrading of its cold rolling mill 21, which resulted in a force majeure being declared Feb. 24. The force majeure is still in place.

“During the process of upgrading Cold Mill 21 at Tata Steel’s IJmuiden steelworks, we encountered unforeseeable challenges that have led to an extended commissioning phase,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve a task force in place — including the involvement of the cold mill upgrade supplier — to resolve the situation.”

The steelmaker has and will continue “to put full focus on all possible mitigation measures to reduce supply risk and disruptions to our customers as much as possible,” van Boesschoten said. “This also includes sourcing of external cold-rolled material and toll rolling at third party cold rolling mills. Furthermore, TSN has worked and is working with customers to bring the order book in line with available capacity.”

The steelmaker will continue to update customers on the situation and when further improvement can be expected, he said.

Tata Steel Nederland had started the upgrade of Cold Mill 21 in August 2022 to further improve the steel surface quality.

The blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace-based IJmuiden plant has capacity to produce up to 7.5 million mt/year of hot- and cold-rolled coil in a variety of finishes, according to Tata Steel Nederland’s website.

The steelmaker denies market talk of the existence of any structural cold mill production problems that could take up to two years to fully recover from, the spokesperson added.

Platts, part of S&P Global, assessed domestic HRC prices in Northwest Europe at Eur860/mt ex-works Ruhr March 29, up Eur5/mt on the week.

Market sources said that mills were in a bullish mood, and lead times for EU material long, meaning buyers have started showing greater interest in imported coil.

Steelmakers across Europe are expected to increase HRC offers to around Eur900/mt ex-works in the week ending March 31, according to market sources.

— Diana Kinch