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ArcelorMittal Brazil extends Tubarao's furnace idleness

Houston — ArcelorMittal Brazil has extended the stoppage of its Tubarao's Blast Furnace No. 2 to the end of the year, from an initially expected 70-day time frame, top company executive said .

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"We are going to take a slow pace on the maintenance," said company CEO Flat Carbon South America Benjamin Baptista on the sidelines of Instituto Aco Brasil steel congress, late Wednesday.

Baptista did not disclose the exactly when operations will resume or the reasons behind the decision.

The steelmaker idled the 1.5 million mt/year crude steel capacity flast furnace on June 23, "due to market conditions," the company said in a statement in early July.

The maintenance stop, originally slated for mid-August, was first set to follow its original 70-day time frame, now delayed until the end of 2019.

ArcelorMittal Tubarao, located in Vitoria, produced around 7 million mt of crude steel in 2018, down from 7.2 million in 2017. Its plant is focused on flat steel products.

Last year, the unit exported a total of 2.37 million mt of slab, according to customs data, which is close to its surplus production of slab of around 3 million mt/year.

The temporary halt of the BF was cited by market sources as a result of the exhaustion of permitted semi-finished steel export quotas to the US, coupled with a sluggish domestic market.

PROJECTS ON HOLD

The steelmaker has three ongoing projects in the region, two of which are currently on hold: a Juiz de Fora a melt shop expansion of 200,000 mt/year, and in Monlevade a sinter plant of 2.3 million mt/year, blast furnace expansion of 1.2 million mt and a melt shop.

Proceeding at ArcelorMittal Vega unit in Brazil is the company's expansion project with a forecast completion in 2021. It is aimed at increasing hot-dip galvanized sheet and cold-rolled coil capacity and includes building a new 700,000 mt/year continuous annealing line and a continuous galvanizing line.

-- Jose Guerra, jose.guerra@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Derek Sands, newsdesk@spglobal.com