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.

Aviles Coking Plant shut down.


Already on 30 September 2019, ArcelorMittal shut down the last two (3&4) of eight batteries  at it’s Aviles coking plant in Spain.
The coking plant had been built from 1951 onwards as part of an economic programme; Franco’s dream of an industrialized Spain.
With it’s closure, the last major unit of the once state-owned steel group ENSIDESA will disappear.
The plant had 8 batteries of 30 ovens each and was planned and built by Didier-KOGAG-Hinselmann, an engineering company from Essen. It supplied coke to the finally four blast furnaces in Aviles (which have since been demolished).
In 1973, the state-owned ENSIDESA took over the neighbouring private steelworks UNINSA in Gijon. The coking plant there is also currently shut down, so that the last active blast furnace (furnace A) in Spain has to be supplied with imported coke. It is therefore questionable whether and when blast furnace B will be restarted.

Vintage Image #9

Aviles Blast Furnaces

Blast furnaces Carmen (named after Carmen Polo, Franco’s wife), Joaquina, Rosario and Carmen IV in Aviles, Spain. Later called blast furnaces 1-4.
The furnaces were built in between 1957 and 1969 by the public enterprise ENSIDESA (Empresa Nacional Siderúrgica Sociedad Anónima). Hearth diameter was 8,69-8,99 meter.
Furnace 1&2 were shut down in1989 and furnaces 3&4 in the mid 1990ies after the hot metal production was translocated to the newer furnaces in Gijon.
By 2001 all furnaces were dismantled.

Blast Furnaces Aceralia