It seemed that last week’s Council of State ruling could be a new starting point for the ex-Ilva, now Acciaierie d’Italia. But at the moment this is not the case. Yesterday, while the Minister of Labor Andrea Orlando was in Genoa, the scene of tensions with the workers, a new tranche of ordinary layoffs for 13 weeks was launched which affects up to 4,000 employees in Taranto and almost a thousand in Liguria. For 8 July, at Mise, a meeting with the company and trade unions was called by Giancarlo Giorgetti. Last Friday another minister, Roberto Cingolani from MiTE, sent a signal of firmness from the government by not authorizing yet another extension of the work on the coking plant of the Taranto plant (battery 12), one of the many crucial environmental points. Interventions that should have been done in a few months, but never completed since 2017. All unavoidable issues.
But to start getting out of the impasse, one important piece is still missing: the approval of the company’s 2020 financial statements and the effective establishment of the new board, the one where the public part representing Invitalia (38% of the capital, 50% of the voting rights, 400 million already paid and probably already melted like snow in the sun ) will have three directors out of six (Franco Bernab, Carlo Mapelli, Stefano Cao) and the presidency (Bernab). The knot is tightening more and more on the question that had emerged in recent months: who approves the 2020 budget? The new course did not have and has no intention of doing so, the old one, in recent months, had tried unsuccessfully to hold the assembly to appoint the new board and then have the accounts approved. Not a trivial matter, because the s is about taking responsibility for past management, which Bernab and colleagues have no intention of taking. The wait is getting longer to the extreme limit: the budget had to be approved by April, then it was decided to take all the time available (due to the pandemic) until the end of June to wait for the Council of State and the possible effect on business continuity ( while, on the other hand, the parent company Arcelor Mittal nevertheless approved its financial statements, which include the Italian business, even though it decided not to consolidate it from 2021). Last night the assembly for the nominations of Acciaierie d’Italia was not called and the deadline for the 2020 accounts is getting closer and closer. Moreover, one of the most delicate chapters of the financial statements would concern exposure to suppliers, which would well exceed two billion euros. Until the impasse is overcome, the stagnation will continue and the market opportunities, with coils splashed at 1,200 euros per ton, will be wasted. The time schedule of things to do, moreover, appears to be very extensive.
Per first of all Bernab and the new board will urgently have to fulfill all environmental requirements. Then they will have to quickly entrust the feasibility studies relating to the new production structure, which provides for the gradual replacement of the current coke blast furnaces with gas systems for the pre-reduced and electric furnaces. A significant step forward from an environmental point of view, given that it would allow the elimination of coke (with annexes and connections) and more than halve emissions compared to current technology. The supply will be put up for tender, choosing from the big names in the market, among which Tenova Hyl (Rocca group, has a licensing agreement with Danieli) or Midrex, which is part of the Kobe Steel group. Each line would be built in the shade, ie in parallel to the existing blast furnaces and without interrupting the activity, and could be completed in about thirty months, each guaranteeing a production of 2-2.5 million tons per year. Once the transformation is complete, who knows what will remain of the exceptional market moment, which according to analysts today guarantees a margin of 350 euros for every ton of steel produced. Which means, in pure hypothesis, that reaching 6 million tons in Taranto could collect more than 2 billion euros a year. Not to mention, finally, the possibility of supplying the Italian market, not least the Genoese production sites whose workers have taken to the streets, and on whose tin containers a large part of the national agro-food system depends.