US Steel Kosice (USS Kosice) in Slovakia restarted one of its three blast furnaces and hot rolling mill after idling the unit in late May 2020 because of COVID-19 pandemic.
USS Kosice took advantage of the idled period to accelerate a maintenance outage planned during the third quarter of 2020 into the second quarter. The maintenance outage was completed last week prompting the blast furnaces to restart just as steel-consuming entities begin regaining market demand. Due to the pandemic, the second quarter would be the bottom of the market for the year with demand recuperating through the last half of 2020, said US Steel spokesperson to Davis Index.
Amid limited steel demand in the short-term, the company is running two out of its three blast furnaces. The third blast furnace will restart when the demand surpasses the steel output from the first two furnaces.
The spokesperson equated the company’s frustration to the recent safeguard review proposal made by the EU, which resulted in limited response to protect the domestic markets from unfairly traded imports. The company along with other large EU mills requested additional protections to limit imports in a period where demand for steel in the EU declined to 50pc.
In January 2019, USS Kosice announced the building of a new $130mn non-grain oriented electrical steel line with an annual capacity of 100,000mt. Construction began in 2019 with an operational target date sometime in Q4 2020. The project timeline is being revised per the updated COVID-19 situation and maybe maintained or delayed into 2021.
Approximately 1,400 employees separated from the company in 2019 following negotiations with the union to reduce USS Kosice workforce by 2,500 by the end of 2021. Now due to limited steel demand, the remaining 1,100 positions will be fast-tracked. According to the website, the company employed 12,000 workers in June 2020.
US Steel Kosice is an integrated steel making plant with crude steel annual capacity of 4.5mn mt.