Written by: Sandy Williams
ArcelorMittal is permanently closing six finishing lines and a coke plant at its Liege facility in Belgium. A seventh line will be maintained only as a repairing line.
The company announced in October 2011 that it would permanently idle its liquid phase at Liege due to over-capacity in Northern Europe. Liege anticipated continuing to operate five core lines and seven flexible lines. The flexible lines would operate at between 0 and 100 percent capacity depending on market demand. As Europe’s economy continued to deteriorate in 2012, steel demand dropped 8-9 percent to 29 percent below pre-crisis levels making continuation of the operations unsustainable.
Leige showed an EBIT loss of more than $2.6 million for the first nine months of 2012 despite the closure of its blast furnace and expects no improvement in 2013. The closures will include the hot strip mill, one cold rolling flow, two galvanization lines and two electro galvanizing lines. An organic coating line in Ramet will be maintained as a repairing line for the Combiline products. An excess supply of coke in Europe led to the decision to close the Liege coke plant.
The closures will affect 1,300 employees. The company will continue to operate five of its core lines that employ 800 people.
“We recognise that this is a very difficult announcement for the employees at Liege, particularly coming so soon after the closure of the primary phase,” said Bernard Dehut, CEO of ArcelorMittal Liege. “We had hoped that that closure would be adequate in terms of adapting to the reduced demand but given the continued lack of orders and overall weakness in the European economy, it has become increasingly apparent that further action is required if we are to stem the continued losses that the plant is reporting and return it to a sustainable basis.”
ArcelorMittal promised to find ways to minimize the social impact of the closing, including the possibility of relocation of employees to other sites.
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