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Via AG Metal Miner
In steel news, Belgium’s NLMK La Louvière is unlikely to resume operations at one of its two hot rolling mills before summer in Belgium. NLMK shuttered the mill after a series of fires in late 2022 knocked it out. “One of the two lines does not work at all,” a source close to the plant told MetalMiner on Monday.
The source also made it clear that two separate fires occurred at the plant in late December. This runs counter to the single fire reported by many steel news sources. Either way, the blazes prompted NLMK La Louvière to declare force majeure on all deliveries. They also left the plant only capable of producing hot rolled coil in gauges less than 2.5mm. Unfortunately, the source could not indicate which of the two mills is off-stream.
The plant has a listed capacity of 2.2 million metric tons per year of hot rolled coil thanks to its two strip mills. It can produce the coil in gauges as small as 1.2m. This is the result of a €150 million ($163 million+) investment to expand capacity from 1.8 million metric tons per year.
Local steel news agencies report that the modernization project finished back in H1 2021. However, MetalMiner’s source noted that negative market conditions have made it unlikely that the plant will achieve full capacity.
Offers on hot rolled coil prices in northern Europe have risen to €700 ($760) per metric ton in the past week. This is an increase from the €660 ($720) reported in December. However, prices remain down by a quarter from the €900-920 ($980-1,000) reported in January 2021.
NLMK La Louvière can also roll 400,000 metric tons per year of cold strip. However, the facility is presently only producing full hard. This means that the finished product will not be annealed and, therefore, only suitable for metal coating.
Despite attempts, La Louvière officials were unavailable to MetalMiner for steel news commentary. The site is part of NLMK Belgium Holdings (NBH), in which the Russian group and Belgian investment fund Sogepa each hold a 49% stake. The Belgian Treasury holds the remaining 2%.
By Christopher Rivituso
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