German steelmakers Saarstahl and Dillinger, part of Stahl-Holding-Saar, said March 23 that demand has recovered this year, adding that they are cautiously optimistic that this recovery will continue.
Coronavirus pandemic has led to tense situation in 2020
“The corona pandemic further exacerbated an already tense situation during the year and led to a collapse in demand during the year, first at Saarstahl and, with a time lag, at Dillinger,” said Karl-Ulrich Köhler, CEO and CFO of Saarstahl and Dillinger.
“We have been operating on sight for many months in our production – in some cases at the technically possible lower limits of the operating modes,” Köhler said.
Saarstahl: demand for wire rod has risen significantly since fall 2020
In the annual report, the companies explained that demand for wire rod at Saarstahl “collapsed” in April and reached its low point in August. A recovery set in during the fall, and incoming orders have recovered “significantly” due to the restart of production in the automotive industry.
Dillinger business has recovered since early 2021
Dillinger experienced weak demand during 2020 from its core customers, such as the engineering, retail and oil and gas pipeline sectors. Offshore wind was the only sector that performed “satisfactorily.” Since the beginning of 2021, Dillinger’s business has recovered, the report said.
Crude and rolled steel production down at Saarstahl in 2020
Crude steel production at Saarstahl fell 17.6% year-on-year to 1.88 million tons in 2020, and by 18.9% to 1.82 million tons at Dillinger. Pig iron purchases decreased by 16.5% year-on-year to 1.63 million t at Saarstahl and by 18.3% to 1.56 million t at Dillinger.
Rolled steel production at Saarstahl decreased 17.5% year-on-year to 1.67 million tons, while sales fell 23.7% year-on-year to 1.69 million euros ($2 million). Heavy plate production at Dillinger decreased 23.9% y-o-y to 1.4 million tons, while net sales fell 21.12% y-o-y to 1.65 million euros.
Restructuring measures delayed
The pandemic has delayed restructuring measures, which now need to be intensified, the steelmakers said.
Dillinger and Saarstahl working on goal of CO2-neutral steel production
According to company sources, Dillinger and Saarstahl are technologically ready and capable of implementing the solutions for CO2-neutral steel making. Of course, Saarstahl and Dillinger – like almost all steel producers at the moment – also complain that they cannot bear the necessary investments to achieve CO2 neutrality on their own. And the political framework conditions simply do not fit.
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