ArcelorMittal has announced that it is to invest €96m at its Florange and Dunkerque sites in France.
In Florange, eastern France, €67m will be invested in a new production line for automotive steels. This project is part of the company’s strategy to have a centre of excellence for automotive steels production in the Lorraine region: Florange and Mouzon in France, and Dudelange in Luxembourg.
The investment will see the construction of a new 600,000 tonne Usibor® line in Florange, which will be operational by mid-2019 and is expected to employ 75 people of which 20 will be newly created jobs. This line will be dedicated to producing advanced high strength steels (AHSS) for the automotive industry and will replace the current electro-galvanising line.
The new line, which will be integrated with a hot strip mill and a pickling line, will be able to produce steels such as Usibor® 2000 and Ductibor® 1000 as well as a new Usibor® Ultraprotect coating. This builds on Florange’s strong reputation for Usibor®.
The line also strengthens ArcelorMittal’s position in advanced high strength steels for the automotive industry, which has been a focus of its R&D efforts. This has led to the design of Usibor® 2000, which the group is soon to produce on an industrial scale. The line will put ArcelorMittal in a strong position to meet fast-growing demand for Usibor®.
In parallel, customer demand for electro-galvanised products is shrinking, as they opt for more advanced high-strength steels. As a result, the current electro-zinc coating line in Florange has been operating below its 300,000 tonne capacity and ArcelorMittal has decided to convert this line into a Usibor® line. Demand for electro-galvanised products will be met by ArcelorMittal’s three other electro-galvanising lines within northern Europe: Marchin and Genk in Belgium and Dudelange, Luxembourg.
“This investment will mean better service for our customers thanks to our increased ability to produce advanced high strength steels, and the flexibility that this additional capacity brings. As we develop new advanced high strength steel products, we want to be in a position to produce them commercially as soon as possible and this investment puts us in a strong position to be able to do this. This is another very positive development in the recent history of ArcelorMittal in Lorraine – and Florange was the right place to make this investment, with its strategic location, with the technology it already has, and its existing infrastructure” said Wim Van Gerven, CEO of Business Division North.
Greater flexibility for high value-added products from Dunkerque
At Dunkerque, ArcelorMittal will invest €29m in the plant's steel shop, to deliver technical improvements that will provide greater flexibility for high value-added products.
The vacuum degassing unit will be modified, adding steel desulphurisation, and a better slag retention system will be installed on the converters. These projects will be operational in the fourth quarter of 2018.
These investments will increase the steel shop's ability to produce grades with very low sulphur, phosphorus and nitrogen contents, in line with the requirements of automotive customers in particular. Therefore, Usibor® 2000, awaited by customers, will go into industrial production at Dunkerque in 2019.
“These investments are wholly in line with the strategy of ArcelorMittal Atlantique & Lorraine. This is an important step in our plan to reach our performance objectives over the long term: enhanced efficiency, quality and customer service” emphasised Eric Niedziela, CEO of ArcelorMittal Atlantique & Lorraine.