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ArcelorMittal closes hot end at Liège - 13 October 2011

Terminating a 200-year history of iron and steelmaking in eastern Belgium, ArcelorMittal is today expected to announce the definitive closure of its Liège works’ hot end – coke ovens, sinter plant, two blast furnaces, oxygen steel shop and slab casters - reducing slab capacity by about 3m tonnes/year.

Steel Business Briefing learns from sources at the plant that, following the idling of both BFs and the confirmation that neither is to restart operating during Q4, trade union officials are convinced the closure is to be considered permanent. A company source confirmed the decision but was unable to give details.

“Yesterday the rumours started spreading. As per our information the decision is to keep the liquid phase idled permanently, together with part of the coke production. The cold rolling mills should continue operating,” a spokesperson of the unions explains to SBB.

Company management is due to give details of the closure at a meeting with workers’ representatives this morning. It should also explain how the rolling mills and coating lines at several sites around Liège will continue to be supplied with steel.

ArcelorMittal has been moving to concentrate flat product production in Europe on its most cost-efficient sites (coastal plants), and has temporarily idled furnaces in Eisenhüttenstadt (Germany) and Florange (France).

Steelworkers in Liège – who returned to work only on Tuesday after an eight-day strike – are promising to fight the closure which will cost at least 600 jobs, according to local press reports.

English industrialist John Cockerill built the first coke-based blast furnace in Liège in 1823. The plants subsequently became part of Arcelor which was acquired by Mittal Steel in 2006.

 

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