Acciaierie d'Italia

The downtime of the unit will last a week – from December 4 to 11

Italian steelmaker Acciaierie d’Italia (formerly Ilva) is suspending blast furnace No. 2, one of two operating at its Taranto plant, as part of maintenance work at several production sites. The shutdown will last for a week, from December 4 to 11, Avvenire reports.

Trade unions are concerned about this announcement and are skeptical of a quick restart. They cite the situation with State Enterprise No. 1 as an example. In August 2023, it was supposed to be shut down for only a month to install Meros filters on sintering equipment, but the blast furnace is still idle. Steelmaking shop No. 1, one of two at the plant, has also been idle since the summer. The shutdown of BF No. 2 left the plant with only one operating blast furnace, BF No. 4. This is a record low, which means the production of 5,000 tons of pig iron per day.

In addition, workers’ representatives fear an expansion of the current redundancy fund, which could affect 250 employees, given the shutdown of the 7th coke oven battery. They also see the blast furnace shutdown as an attempt by ArcelorMittal to put pressure on the government and force ongoing negotiations.

The national secretaries of the Fim, Fiom and Uilm unions recently wrote a letter regarding the former Ilva situation to Prime Minister George Maloney and relevant ministers. They called for an urgent meeting to discuss the deadlock in negotiations between the government and ArcelorMittal over the company’s structure, the financial crisis and prospects for restarting the plant.

Acciaierie d’Italia’s shareholders’ meeting was adjourned twice without result, with the next one scheduled for December 6. The most pressing problem at the moment is the company’s lack of liquidity. At the previous meeting, Acciaierie d’Italia CEO Lucia Morselli mentioned the amount of €320-380 million needed to meet the most urgent needs, starting with gas supplies.

Meanwhile, the shareholders – ArcelorMittal with 62% of the shares and the state agency Invitalia with 38% – are weighing their positions, La Repubblica reports. According to some sources, last week, the Minister of Enterprises and Production Adolfo Urso and the Minister of Economy and Finance Giancarlo Giorgetti met to discuss a possible increase in Invitalia’s share in the majority capital through a €680 million convertible loan approved in early 2023.

As GMK Center reported earlier, one of the main questions is whether ArcelorMittal, which owns 62% of ADI, is ready to invest in the company’s rescue and further development. In particular, in September this year, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the authorities and ArcelorMittal, which obliges the government to finance environmental initiatives worth €2.27 billion, which will be received through RePowerEu or other European funds, while the remaining €2.35 billion will be taken over by Acciaierie d’Italia. The key issue now is the amount of the partners’ contributions, commitments and timing.