COVID-19 stories from the global steel industry. Steel Times International will be constantly publishing updates on the situation as it develops.
• Tata Steel, India’s largest steelmaker, has initiated a twice-a-day sanitation of staff vehicles, has disabled biometric attendance and is asking pregnant women to work from home in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The company has set up a COVID-19 medical task force to assess the medical preparedness of Tata Steel hospitals in Jharkhand and Odisha where the company owns mines.
Source: Moneycontrol.com, 17 March 2020.
• ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, is taking steps to reduce production at its European operations in order to ensure the wellbeing of its employees and align production with demand. The announcement reflects the severity of the COVID-19 situation in Western Europe and the moves taken by the company are designed to protect its employees and prevent the spread of the infection.
Source: ArcelorMittal, 19 March 2020.
• Austrian steelmaker voestalpine has announced a short-time working model to help combat the challenges it faces from COVID-19.
“As a result of massive reductions in capacity and current production shutdowns in the automotive, aerospace, mechanical engineering, and oil & natural gas industries, in just a few days demand in the key voestalpine customer segments has collapsed,” the company said, adding that in order meet the required level of flexibility over the next weeks and to secure jobs, short-time work is being registered in around 50 European Group companies (in Austria as well as in Germany, Belgium, and France).
Source: steeltimesint.com, 25 March 2020.
• ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih in Ukraine is working with Yuriy Vilkul, mayor of Kryvyi Rih, a city in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast region, to counteract the spread of COVID-19. The company will buy three artificial respirators for Kryvyi Rih medical facilities and convert its ‘Dzherelo’ sanatorium into an observational facility for people who might have the virus. There are plans to equipment six ambulances with equipment to safely transport potentially infected people.
Source: MarketScreener.com, 19 March 2020.
• Production cuts are on the cards for German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp. The company is looking at shortened working hours to fit in with reduced production in the automotive industry due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The car industry is TK’s biggest customer group and the company wants to hold on to as many employees as it can.
Source: Channel News Asia, 19 March 2020.
• Hyundai Motor’s executive vice chairman Chung Euisun, has been named as chairman of South Korea’s biggest car manufacturer. The appointment is designed to strengthen the company’s ‘responsible management’ team amid growing uncertainties and tougher competition. The company claims it needs ‘strong and implacable’ leadership as the coronavirus impacts sales. Mr Euisunhas quit his directorship of Hyundai Steel.
Source: Yonhap News Agency, 19 March 2020.
• Operations have been suspended at Hyundai Motor’s Alabama plant in the USA after one of its employees was infected with COVID-19. Other overseas plants face possible shutdown amid growing infection fears.
Source: Yonhap News Agency, 19 March 2020.
• With integrated steel mills in the USA accounting for more than half of automotive sheet production, it is likely they will be hardest hit by shutdowns of automotive plants. Companies like US Steel, Cleveland Cliffs and ArcelorMittal will be badly hit when compared with minimill operators, like Steel Dynamics, which don’t supply as much sheet to the auto sector. Automotive accounts for 25% of US steel demand and over 40% of sheet demand, according to Key Banc analyst Phil Gibbs.
Source: Seeking Alpha.com, 18 March 2020.
• As steel demand falters because of the corona virus, China Steel Corporation, Taiwan’s leading steel producer, is to lower its domestic price list for all its major steel products destined to be sold in May. The company is to release some steel list prices on a monthly basis starting in April. Hot-rolled coil, cold-rolled coil and hot-dipped galvanized coil are being trimmed by TWD 300/tonne.
Source: Mysteel Global, 20 March 2020.
• The world’s biggest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, is to close two blast furnaces in France. One will close at Fos-sur-Mer and the other at Dunkirk. The former has two blast furnaces, the latter has three.
Source: Argus, 19 March 2020.
• ‘Socially responsible’ job cuts are the way forward for German steel giant ThyssenKrupp. The company has agreed a plan with the IG Metall trade union to shed 3,000 jobs and invest 4.2 billion in its steel business by 2026. TK’s steel business is the second biggest in Europe in terms of sales and the aim of the job cuts and investment is to make TK competitive against rivals ArcelorMittal and Austrian steelmaker voestalpine.
Source: Yahoo Finance, 25 March 2020.
• The COVID-19 calamity has prompted big US-based carmakers GM, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler, as well as Honda and Toyota, to announce temporary production stoppages in North America, something that, no doubt, will focus the minds of US steelmakers serving the automotive sector.
Source S&P Global, 20 March 2020.
• Russian steelmaker PAO Severstal has set into motion a number of measures designed to protect it’s employees from the COVID-19 virus. Measures include restrictions on foreign travel and a reduction of trips within Russia, temperature checking for employees as they arrive at work, remote working where possible, enhanced hygiene and cleaning measures and a suspension of all organised activities involving 20 or more people. Mandatory breathalyser tests have been discontinued.
Source: Market Screener, 20 March 2020.
• Despite the devastation caused by the COVID-19 virus, the Chinese continued to produce steel throughout the crisis, producing 154.7Mt of crude steel over the first two months of 2020, up 3.1% on the same period last year. However, disruptions to transportation has meant a build-up of stocks due to weak domestic demand.
Source: Hellenic Shipping News, 23 March 2020.
• South Korea’s number one and two steelmakers – POSCO and Hyundai Steel Co. – have both initiated plant closures in India because of the spread of COVID-19. POSCO has closed down two coil service centres in Delhi and Pune, and Hyundai has shutdown a service centre and steel pipe plant in Tamil Nadu, Southern India.
Source: Yonhap News Agency, 23 March 2020.
• In India, Tata Steel is closing downstream standalone units in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh but keeping sites at Jamshepur, Kaliganagar and Angul operational. The company’s consolidated crude steel capacity is 19.6Mt/yr. Meanwhile, ArcelorMittal/Nippon Steel India is claiming that lower demand and curtailed logistics mean its production has been impacted by COVID-19. Jindal Steel & Power plants are still operational (or were at the time of writing).
Source: Business Standard.com, 23 March 2020.
• Concerns over COVID-19 have led to Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau SA postponing all capital expenditure initiatives, according to an online report from Reuters. Operations are being suspended in Peru and Argentina because of lockdowns and US operations are also adversely affected by the slowing down of the automotive industry.
Source: Reuters, 24 March 2020.
South Korean steel giant POSCO is to close two coil service centres in Verona Italy because of COVID-19. The closures follow hot on the heels of announcements made last week regarding the shutting down of two coil service centres in Malaysia and Thailand and in Delhi and Pune in India.
Source: Yonhap News Agency, 24 March 2020.
US Steel is to idle its seamless tubular operations in Lorain, Ohio, USA, because of market conditions, including oil pricing, imports, and demand and not because of COVID-19. There will be job losses. Expect 250 job losses.
Source: The Chronicle, 23 March 2020.
• Steel has been declared a ‘life essential’ in the state of Pennsylvania, USA, where almost all business has been shutdown. State troopers, local officials, the state Health and Agriculture departments and the Liquour Control Board will enforce the situation.
The two-term Democrat governor Tom Wolf had previously said he would not use police for enforcement. The move, which was taken the slow the spread of COVID-19, has been roundly condemned by Republicans.
Source: US News & World Report.
• Russian steelmaker MMK is taking active measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Foreign business trips for employees have been suspended and trips within Russia are being restricted. The company is recommending that employees who have visited countries with active Coronavirus cases undergo a 14-day home quarantine with the option of working remotely.
There are plans to decrease production volumes and undertake equipment repairs.
Source: MMK, 25 March 2020.
• Due to circumstances surrounding the global problems created by the COVID-19 virus, the Future Steel Forum 2020 has pressed the reset button and has rebooted itself to a new date in November (24-25). The conference will still take place at the Grandior Hotel, Prague, Czech Republic, and we hope to bring you a virtually unchanged programme.
COVID-19 has effected all societies throughout the world and many conferences and exhibitions have been forced to either cancel or postpone. Fortunately, the Future Steel Forum has only been postponed.