In the south of France, ArcelorMittal Méditerranée unites traditional steelmaking strength with the ability to make the high-grade, products of the future. It is a combination that is helping the sites’ customers, particularly in the automotive sector, overcome today’s challenges facing their industries.
For close to 40 years, the integrated site at Fos-sur-Mer, 50 km west of Marseille, has been producing steel for sectors such as automotive, construction, appliances, packaging, tubes dedicated to energy (oil and gas pipes) and for wheels, in increasing grades and quantities. It now produces more than 120 grades of steel with a capacity of over 4 million tonnes per year. Like Dunkerque in the north, its coastal location makes it a first quality site in steel production and distribution in France.
Saint Chély d’Apcher, 320 km north of Fos-sur-Mer, is specialized in the production of electrical steels for electric and hybrid vehicles and for generators for power production. Innovation and market insight are at the heart of the site’s operations. As a result, we have invested €90m in a new annealing facility operating since March 2013. The line delivers more energy-efficient electrical steel and electrical steels to service the small but growing market for hybrid and electric cars.
In 2011, we invested €100m to refurbish one of the two blast furnaces at Fos. The plant already has one of the most powerful hot strip mills in Europe. By enhancing the facilities and optimising the plant’s layout, we are helping our assets become more efficient, more competitive and ultimately deliver better-quality products and service to customers.
Fos specialises in producing hot rolled coils for the oil and gas industry, the automotive sector – some of which are used directly in the wheels of vehicles – and the agriculture sector. As well as serving the domestic market and southern Europe, Fos exports its products globally, principally to the US. The ambition is to grow these exports as the plant increases its competitiveness.
Nearly 4,000 people are employed directly and indirectly at Fos, and the plant plays an active role in its local community. This includes a growing awareness of the site’s environmental footprint. In 2011, we invested €18m in a dust extraction system at the site. The system significantly reduces the smoke released when pig iron is loaded into the converter – by as much as 90%.
Fos has also formed partnerships with a local nature reserve to preserve and protect land that is not in industrial use. Other initiatives include support for Marseille Provence as it celebrates being the European Capital of Culture in 2013 and providing help to build a crèche for use by employees and local families.
St Chély d’Apcher
At St Chély, March 2013 marked a significant milestone for the plant’s ambitions. It saw the opening of a new annealing line that will produce higher-performing electrical steels for use in hybrid and electric cars. Although production volumes are relatively low, it is expected that the market will grow given the pressure on the car industry to reduce CO2 emissions against a backdrop of rising energy prices.
These cars need to be lightweight yet powerful and therefore require electric motors, in low loss, high permeability steel. St Chély will become the only plant in Europe to produce these grades of steel.
Over the next 12 months, the plant will focus on continuous improvement and optimising the performance of the new production line. Using precise metrics and measurements in a clean, controlled environment, we can assess losses in real time and monitor overall performance of the products better.
St Chély’s ambition is to become one of the leaders in developing new materials for high-quality and high-performing steels – for cars, as well as for windmills and large electrical motors. The response from customers and manufacturers has been encouraging.
In helping to create the products of the future, St Chély is not only anticipating the needs of its customers, but also making a lasting contribution to CO2 emissions reduction and greater energy efficiency.