The ominous electric steel plant in Marcinelle.

Four electrique Marcinelle
At the beginning of the 1990s, the management of Cockerill Sambre began to reflect on the fundamental problems raised by their mills in the Charleroi basin.
The modernization of the coking plant, sinter belt 1 and blast furnace 5 in Marchienne, which was too small and badly positioned, no longer seemed to make sense.
It was therefore decided to replace the production capacity of blast furnace 5 (o.7 million t/y) with a new electric arc furnace at Marcinelle.
At the same time the closure of long products production, as foreseen in the Gandois plan of 1983, was to be implemented. Therefore, the 6-strand billet continuous casting line CC1 was to be closed down and replaced by a 1-strand slab line, Four electrique Cockerill-SambreCC3, to be supplied by the new electric arc furnace.
In order to take advantage of attractive electricity rates, the new furnace was to be operated for only 5,000 hours a year, exclusively at night and on weekends, and produce about 650,000 t/y.
Cockerill-Sambre then decided to build a direct current furnace with scrap preheating. The furnace had a hearth diameter of 7.1 m and a tapping weight of 140 t.
Up to 40% of liquid pig iron could be charged via a fixed channel.
It was manufactured by Paul Wurth from Luxembourg.
The first tapping took place on 5.3.1996 and the official inauguration was held in the presence of Jean Gandois in September of the same year.
Unfortunately, this investment was not very sustainable, the electric steel plant in Marcinelle was closed down again in July 2003 and then transferred to the Laminados Zaragoza steelworks (MEGASA by now) in Spain. There the furnace resumed operation in April 2007 after being overhauled by Siemens-VAI.

Thanks for the support to the Bois de Cazier Archive, Charleroi.


1956/57 nahm die Hütten- und Bergwerke Rheinhausen AG die ersten Großraumlichtbogenöfen in Deutschland in Betrieb. Die beiden 120 t Öfen wurden von der DEMAG (Ofen 31) und BBC  (Ofen 32) in einem Anbau des SM-Stahlwerks 2 montiert und waren die größten in Europa.

Ofen 31

Ausschlaggebend für den Entschluß dort keine weiteren SM-Öfen zu bauen waren die geringeren Investitionskosten und die bessere Energieausbeute der Lichtbogenöfen. Außerdem stand auf der Hütte reichlich Hochofengas zur Verstromung zur Verfügung. Restlos überzeugt war man in Rheinhausen wohl nicht von der neuen Technik. Anfang der 1960er Jahre  befand man, daß die Öfen sich, gemessen an der Tatsache, daß es sich um Neukonstruktionen handelte, ” im großen und ganzen recht gut bewährt haben”.
Die E-Öfen in Rheinhausen wurden 1982 nach der Inbetriebnahme des neuen 120 t UHP Lichtbogenofens in Bochum stillgelegt.

VDM Metals, Unna

VDM Metals Stahlwerk
One of the lesser-known steel plants is VDM Metal’s melt shop in Unna, Germany.
It was built as a greenfield project in 1972. All smelting activities of Vereinigte Deutsche Metallwerke AG were concentrated there from then on.
In 1989, the Krupp Stahl AG took over VDM. The company became part of ThyssenKrupp in 1999.
Since 2015 VDM is owned by private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg from New York.
VDM Metals Unna  operates a 30t, 15 MVA electric arc furnace, three 16t induction furnaces, a vacuum induction furnace and 3 electroslag remelting ovens.
VDM-Metals specialized in Nickel alloys and special alloyed steels.
Further images.
VDM Metals, Stahlwerk Unna