Blast Furnace No. 1 was shut down in mid-2023. Its capacity reaches 900,000 tons of pig iron per year
HBIS Serbia, a Serbian steelmaker owned by the Chinese steel group HBIS Group, will continue to operate one of its two blast furnaces (BFs) due to weak demand in the global steel market, especially in the EU. This was stated by the company’s Executive Director Vladan Mikhailovich in an interview with RTS-U TV channel.
Blast Furnace No. 1, which has a capacity of 900 thousand tons of pig iron per year, was suspended in mid-2023. Nevertheless, the plant produced more than 1.1 million tons of slabs last year, operating with one blast furnace (BF No. 2).
«We continued production at Blast Furnace No. 2, and about 35% of our products were sold to the domestic market. Another 10% was shipped to the countries of the former Yugoslavia, while the rest was shipped to Central and Southeast Europe, such as Germany, Italy, Austria, Poland and France,» Mikhailovich said.
The company is ready to restart the unit if the situation on the steel market is favorable and customers demand it.
He also emphasized that in March 2022, HBIS Serbia opened a new sinter plant, which is built using modern technologies and helps to improve environmental standards.
«The new sinter plant uses blast furnace gas exclusively instead of natural gas and is equipped with modern gas cleaning units. This year, the company will build a protective wall around the open storage of raw materials to reduce emissions of iron ore fines during unloading. The plant will also build BOF vessel No. 4, which will use dry cleaning of BOF gases, as well as a storage facility for BOF gas, which will serve as fuel for other units,» the company’s executive director added.
Currently, investments in the relevant projects amount to more than €300 million, while further investments to improve environmental quality and energy efficiency will be much higher, he said.
HBIS Serbia’s capacity is estimated at about 2.2 million tons of pig iron per year. The plant is equipped with two blast furnaces, including No. 1 (900 thousand tons of pig iron per year) and No. 2 (1.3 million tons). Its product range includes hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel, pickled automotive and electrical steel.
According to the WorldSteel Association, steel production in Serbia in January-November 2023 decreased by 34.5% compared to the same period in 2022, to 1.33 million tons. Global steel production in the period increased by 0.5% y/y – to 1.71 billion tons.
As GMK Center reported earlier, at the end of 2022, Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company (UDP) and HBIS Group signed a contract for the transportation of 500 kt of iron ore from Ukraine. UDP has been consistently fulfilling its obligations. At the same time, the companies are considering options to significantly increase iron ore transportation to Serbia. In the short term, UDP will be able to guarantee the plant the transportation of 1.2 million tons of iron ore from Ukraine.