ArcelorMittal plans to completely halt crude steel production over the next several weeks at its Fos-sur-Mer facility in southern France, in a bid to temporarily further reduce production at the integrated flat products plant.
The company cited COVID-19 related challenges for its decision, saying that its European operations have reeled under the pandemic’s impact.
In March, the global steelmaker had announced it was taking steps to reduce production at Fos-sur-Mer and had idled two blast furnaces as part of that plan.
The amount of time needed to completely stop production at a large steel mill could be lengthy and based on projections for when COVID-19 will peak in Europe, the plant may be stopped after the pandemic has reached the top of the curve, according to media reports. Idling the mill could then cause an interruption that continues past government-imposed containment actions in Europe.
Separately, Fos-sur-Mer residents recently filed legal proceedings regarding pollution issues with companies in the region, including steel mills. Almost 20pc of factories in France that are classified as high-risk are located in this region.
Concerns over pollution have been exacerbated in the wake of COVID-19 at mills all over the world as they have generally been deemed essential businesses with some citizens raising the issue of placing economy before health. According to media reports, public health experts confirm that pollution could increase the death toll due to the pandemic.
ArcelorMittal’s other integrated mill in Dunkerque, France also stopped one of its three blast furnaces recently. The facility is planning to halt a second blast furnace but plans to keep its third and largest blast furnace operable, according to reports. ArcelorMittal in Florange, France restarted some of its rolling lines last week, after idling them for a week.