The future of the troubled Italian steelmaker Ilva remains uncertain despite the previous deadline set for the beginning of July for the new owner, the ArcelorMittal group, to take control of the company.
This week the new Italian government began official operations and, as a result, new meetings between ArcelorMittal executives and representatives of the trade unions have been postponed. The Italian press has reported that ArcelorMittal has requested to meet with the new government first to understand the Administration's clear position on the Ilva issue.
The new government is mainly formed by members of Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), a populist party that had been requesting the closure of the Taranto integrated site for many years (see Kallanish 1 June). This week again a number of members of the parliament from M5S confirmed their intention to permanently close steelmaking in Taranto, to secure the environmental clean-up of the area.
Luigi Di Maio, the new minister for economic development and leader of M5S, is expected to be leading the discussions related to Ilva going forward. He has so far failed however to give a clear indication on the future of Ilva.
It is unclear what the consequences of the possible closure of the steelmaking section of Taranto would be. Nevertheless, ArcelorMittal earlier confirmed that it intends to ramp-up steelmaking at the company to secure profitability. This would involve taking crude steel production back to levels of 8 million tonnes/year and finished steel output to above 9m t/y. It is expected that ArcelorMittal should take over the control of the Ilva group at the beginning of July.
A closure of the Taranto steelmaking site would also directly impact the operations at the rolling lines both in Taranto and in Northern Italy.