Italian steel mills will have to shut down most operations under a government decree issued Sunday tightening restrictions to fight the spread coronavirus.
The government has ordered the suspension of industrial and commercial activities that are not essential by March 25.
Market sources said that although most mills would not be allowed to continue production, some are trying to secure the requisite permission from local prefects to carry on. Unions have promised to fight such moves and say they are ready to call a huge strike to prevent plants staying open.
Under the government decree, continuous production cycle plants activities are permitted “from which interruption results in serious damage to the plant itself,” but again this is subject to a greenlight from the local prefect.
ArcelorMittal Italia’s plant in Taranto, the largest Italian flat steel producer, has some continuous cycle production at its plant that should be allowed to keep running.
On Saturday it shut down blast furnace No.2 at Taranto, as well as the facility’s No.1 melting shop. Crude steel production will be around 8,500 mt/day, with only two blast furnaces — No.1 and 4 — continuing to work, unions sources told Platts.
“AM Italia has shut down some of the hot end; we do understand that BF1 and BF4 have to continue to be operative, but we ask to shut down all the other cold end part activities that are still working in Taranto as well as in the sites of the company based in North Italy such as the Genoa re-rolling plants and Novi Liguri,” a union source said.
“We urge the government and the prefects to listen to us and stop all the activities — there is no need for the cold end parts to work for the time being, also considering that most of the Italian steel producers’ buyers — domestic and not domestic — have halted productions, in particular the automotive sectors,” he added.
Unions were due to meet with company representatives Monday afternoon.
The company declined to comment.
Arvedi’s Servola plant in the Trieste area would also potentially be exempt, but was due to close permanently at the end of March anyway.