Two Ukraine Steel Mills Set to Restart Production

At least two Ukraine steel manufacturers are ready to restart production amid the ongoing conflict with Russia. Sources indicate this is because the areas where the mills are located have seen less impact from the invasion. Global investors greeted the announcement with much fanfare. After all, the renewed export of Ukrainian steel will undoubtedly have a significant impact on European markets.

A Major Steel Producer Comes Back Online

Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal Kryviy Rih, a longs producer in the country’s second-largest city, is set to bring Blast Furnace No. 8 back online on May 2. This is according to CEO Mauro Longobardo, who made the announcement in the April 8 issue of the plant newspaper, Metallurg. Longobardo went on to say that Blast Furnace No. 6 will resume operations “in the coming days.”
ArcelorMittal Kryviy Rih also expressed plans to return rolling production to the “highest possible level” by May 10. At the same time, the company plans to resume exports of iron ore concentrates. However, Longobardo made it clear that these actions are contingent on both logistics and the military situation. Currently, the plan is to dispatch finished products to Poland via train.
“It used to go by sea, but now we will transport it by rail first to Poland and from there to our customers,” Longobardo added.
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Ukraine steel production represents some 15% of the total economy.

Ukraine Steel is Crucial to the Country’s Economy

When Russia invaded back on February 24, Arcelor Mittal announced it would slow down production at Kryviy Rih to a technical minimum. However, AMKR is located in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, which has so far not experienced much fighting. Though the war appears far from over, many Ukranian businesses are eager to get the economy rolling again.
The Ukrainian steel industry typically comprises around 15% of the country’s economy. This is meaningful, as the World Bank estimated that the war will shrink Ukrainian GDP by as much as 45%. Altogether, mills in Ukraine can produce about 20 million metric tons of finished and semi-finished steel products. Before the war began, some 70% of this amount was exported. Were exports to continue, it might help alleviate wartime financial problems.
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Indeed, Arcelor Mittal alone can produce around 6 million metric tons per year of crude steel via the BF/BOF Route. Its steel is mainly cast into billets. These are then rolled into long products, such as wire rods, rebar, and merchant bar.

Metinvest Joining the Fight to Boost Steel Production

On April 12, Metinvest, an international mining and steel enterprises company, announced that it had restored operations at its sinter plant. The company also said that it was in the process of blowing in two of the four blast furnaces at its Zaporizhstal joint venture.
Zaporizhstal, located in the southeast, is Ukraine’s fourth largest steelmaker. “Gradually, with the production of hot metal by the blast furnaces, subsequent links in the production chain will be put into operation as well,” the group stated. They later added that Zaporizhia Coke and Refractory have also resumed operations.
Metinvest reports a 49.9% stake in Zaporizhstal. However, one source told MetalMiner that this is closer to 100%. This is because the remaining stake originally belonged to “a group of Russian investors.” Of course, since the war began, the Ukrainian government has started confiscating all Russian-owned assets.

stack of steel pipes
kasarp/Adobe Stock

Zaporizhstal Represents Significant Metal Output

Zaporizhstal lies some 550 kilometers southeast of Kyiv. According to Metinvest representatives, the site’s four blast furnaces can produce up to 3.8 million metric tons (mmt) of pig iron annually. Meanwhile, its seven open-hearth furnaces and single bath furnace can pour around 4 mmt of crude steel.
Zaporizhstal’s Mill 1680 can also make up to 3.6 mmt per year of hot-rolled sheet and coil in multiple gauges and widths. Further downstream, the plant has an annual capacity of 1 mmt for cold-rolled coil. In this case, Rolling Shops #1 and #3 produce gauges of 0.2-5 mm gauges and 850-2,300 mm.

Ukraine Steel Production Rolls on in Some Areas

Another Metinvest operation is Kamet Steel. The company acquired it back in June 2021, when it was known as Dneprovsky Iron & Steel Integrated Works. Situated near Dnipro, this longs producer has managed to operate as normal virtually the entire war.
Kamet Steel site can pour up to 3.5 million metric tons of crude steel per year. The company casts nearly all of this into square and round billet. It then makes these billets available for commercial sale. They can also roll the billet into roughly 1.8 million metric tons of long products or ship them to Metinvest’s Promet subsidiary in Bulgaria.
The fact that Metinvest and ArcelorMittal Kryviy Rih are restarting production is undoubtedly good news. What effects will renewed steel export have on Ukraine’s overall economic situation? It’s hard to tell . However, European investors are undoubtedly eager to see anything returning to “normal.”
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