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Steel Giant ArcelorMittal Faces Growing Economic Headwinds

Via AG Metal Miner

As markets prepare for more bad steel news, ArcelorMittal plans to idle one of two blast furnaces at its Fos-sur-Mer site in southern France. The Luxembourg-headquartered group stated on November 4 that the move was a direct response to current market conditions.

“In a sharply deteriorated macro-economic context, coupled with a major impact from soaring energy prices and an increase in steel imports in Europe, the Fos-sur-Mer site is, in turn, facing a slowdown demand for steel. Order forecasts are down for late 2022 and early 2023,” the group said in a statement.

According to ArcelorMittal Méditerranée CEO Bruno Ribo, BF No. 2 will go off stream from December until market conditions permit. The ArcelorMittal Méditerranée operation consists of Fos-sur-Mer and special steels producer Saint Chély d’Apcher.

Fos-sur-Mer’s blast furnaces each have a heath diameter of 11.8 meters. They can produce a combined 7,000 metric tons of pig iron daily. The plant has an estimated nominal capacity of 60 million metric tons per year of crude steel, which it casts into slab for hot rolled coil using two 335-metric-ton basic oxygen furnaces.

Steel News Focused on Shutdowns, Asian Supply

Fos-sur-Mer’s planned idling follows several other ArcelorMittal closures. Starting back in September, the company began to shutter sites in Germany, Poland, France, and Spain. As with other commodity manufacturers, the poor economic outlook remains the primary reason for the moves.

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The burgeoning global recession and imports from Southeast Asia continue to put downward pressure on HRC prices across Europe, meaning more bad steel news. In late October, mills offered flat-rolled products at €700-720 ($695-715) per metric ton EXW. This represented a drop from the €740-750 ($735-745) price points seen in late September. In late September, HRC transactions from Vietnam reached €680-685 ($680-685) per metric ton CIF for Bilbao and Antwerp. It’s worth noting those figures were also for January delivery.

There were also reports that the latest mill offers included delivery. As one trading source noted last week, Chinese mills were offering $585 CFR European ports. Meanwhile, anti-dumping measures by the European Union continue to take aim at Chinese steel imports. The source said this would decrease the likelihood of the latest HRC offers directly impacting the markets within the 27-member bloc.

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“But it puts pressure on FOB prices in Asia, of course,” the source added, clearly expecting future problems for the world’s second-largest economy.

By Christopher Rivituso

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