Yesterday, on the day of reopening the dialogue between the company and the unions on the Ex Ilva disputethe Ministry of Economy and Finance has announced that it has prepared the disbursement of the financial envelope of 680 million euros for Invitalia so that it can transfer the sum “without delay” to Acciaierie d’Italia, the company in the hands of Arcelor Mittal in which the State, through its subsidiary Invitalia, has a minority stake of 38%.
The position of the unions
The announcement follows themeeting in Confindustriain Rome, between trade unions and Acciaierie d’Italia on the new industrial and investment plan against the economic resources made available by the government. The representatives of Usb, a union very present among the workers of the former Ilva, were excluded from the meeting. “Among employees of Acciaierie d’Italia, former Ilva workers in Extraordinary Administration and contracts, Usb has about 1,800 members”, let the excluded ones know, who collect the solidarity of the 5 Star Movement and the Democratic Party. The former Ilva dispute has been dragging on for over ten years. At the center of the debate is the dramatic situation of the Taranto plants, the future of workers, including related industries, and the use of the 750 million euros (680 million provided by the state and the remainder by Arcelor Mittal) to strengthen assets. “We have started a process and reopened the dialogue with the company”, is the first comment of the unions after the meeting. In the two hours of discussion the managing director of Acciaierie d’Italia Lucia Morselli opened to a common discussion on the relaunch and management of the 750 million incoming. “Let’s hope they aren’t just used to pay bills” said Rocco Palombella, Uilmal secretary general at the end of the meeting. Indeed i debts of Acceirie d’Italia to Snam and Eni amount to a figure close tocheck just detached from the Mef. Gianni Venturi, Fiom’s iron and steel manager, is also worried about this: “The budget of 680 million euros cannot be used only to deal with the debt situation”. While Roberto Benaglia, general secretary of Fim Cisl, considers an increase in production of only 15% in 2023 insufficient. In his report, Morselli communicated to the unions that in 2023 he aims to reach 4 million tons of production with the aim of reaching 5 million tonnes in 2024. In the second half of 2023, the renovation of Afo 5 will finally begin (the renovation of Afo 5 was envisaged in the industrial plan presented by Arcelor Mittal in 2018, ed) and the construction of an electric second half of 2023 Afo 1, Afo 2 and Afo 4 should also march. “We appreciate willingness and willingness to engage in discussions, remaining cautious on various issues” says Ugl Metalmeccanici, commenting on yesterday’s meeting in the national Confindustria between Italian steelworks and trade union organisations. “It has been summarily illustrated – declare in a joint note the national deputy secretary with responsibility for the steel industry, Daniele Francescangeli, the provincial secretary of metalworkers, Domenico Gigante and the UglM territorial coordinator of the Taranto industry, Concetta Di Ponzio – what has been done up to now by the company regarding the industrial and environmental investments dictated by the AIA prescriptions”. Furthermore, “the new projects for the sustainability and productivity of the former Ilva site at a national level were announced. As Ugl metalworkers – they add – we have been clear on how to lay the foundations for a future dialogue with the company for the continuation of the objectives set out regarding the increase in production, the definition of future environmental interventions and safety within the plant of Tarentum”.
The list of creditors
It stretches the list of creditors of Acciaierie d’Italia. Not only Snam and Eni, but also Sanac in extraordinary administration is a creditor towards Acciaierie d’Italia. The credit of Sanac is 20 million euros with related legal documents. This is what the extraordinary commissioner highlighted in the hearing in the industry commission in the Senate Corrado Carrubba. The difficult relations with Arcelor Mittal and its Italian branch Aminvestco emerged from the commissioner’s statement. “For two years – said Carrubba – AmInvestco has paid only following injunctions filed in court”. Relations with the Arcelor Mittal branch have been difficult from the start. “Sanac – explained Carrubba – was a company with 300 employees, specialized in ferrous refractories and was a housing company of Ilva”. Following the sale of the assets of the Ilva group, Sanac was put up for sale with an initial tender procedure won in 2018 by Arcelor Mittal. “Arcelor Mittal – recalled Carrubba – after winning the tender, did not show up for the signature of the notary and we even had to enforce the guarantee of 1 million euros provided for by the tender”. Later, Carrubba continued in her story, the managing director of Acciaierie d’Italia Lucia Morselli decided not to purchase supplies from Sanac anymore. “If we take into account that Ex Ilva was the historical customer of Sanac and ne constituted 60% of the turnover, we have the extent of the damage caused which we are dealing with. Currently – Carrubba recalled – of the 300 workers, 108 are on layoffs”.
The investment plan
“If the backlog is not paid, supplies will be interrupted and Taranto’s business will be irreparably compromised”. That’s what he said Franco Bernabé, president of Acciaierie d’Italia, ex Ilva, in a hearing today at the Senate Industry Commission on decree law 2 of 2023 referring to the supply of gas that feeds the blast furnaces in the Taranto steelworks. The steel market, added Bernabé, was marked by “two extraordinary events, the pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict” and this caused a “shock effect on output and price“. The investment estimates made for the ecological and industrial transition of the former Ilva iron and steel plant in Taranto over a period of ten years will have to be revised due to the “inflationary process”. For Bernabé, “the decarbonisation plan in ten years” has as its first objective “the cut of climate-changing emissions. The second objective – said Bernabé – is the stability of employment in the transitional period”. Then comes the “economic sustainability managing the new technologies”, therefore “the growth to be pursued with the seamless transition strategy”. According to Bernabé, it is a matter of making “four factors compatible, environment, development, employment and the strategic nature of the site, reaffirmed by the Government”. Bernabé indicated the “improvement of the sustainability of the hot area” which will take place between 2023 and 2025, arranging “the use of Dri”, the pre-reduced iron, “on which we are working”. For this, “over 1 billion will be needed but it is destined to increase as a result of the inflationary process”. The next phase sees the “first electric furnace with pre-reduced and hydrogen as an energy carrier and the capture of carbon dioxide”. This phase will run from 2024 to 2027 and is calculated at 2.4 billion. This will be followed, Bernabé said, by “the extension of the electrification of the hot area, a second oven”, a phase which will run from 2027 to 2029 with a billion and 200 million financial commitment. Therefore, the last phase, which for Bernabé is represented by the “completion of the electrification of the hot area in the period 2029-2032” to march productively with “only electric furnaces, powered first by natural gas, to be replaced then with green hydrogen depending on the availability that will be available”. This phase, Bernabé said, will cost another billion and in 2032 the Taranto factory will be powered only by green hydrogen. “Up until now – he continued – the company has financed itself with autonomous cash flow and something that is almost impossible for a company of this size”. Bernabé said the corporate plan “provides for a gradual introduction of electric furnaces to replace blast furnaces. The idea of restoring kiln 5, one of the best performing in Europe, derives from the need to gradually close all the other kilns and therefore to allow employment to be maintained and a production level such as to guarantee cash generation” but also I work in Tarentum. Blast furnaces employ 1,000 people per ton produced, electric furnaces “employ 400. So – said Bernabé – we took the problem of employment transition very seriously” looking for “solutions that would minimize the impact on employment”.
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