PARIS (Reuters) - ArcelorMittal expects its steel production in Europe to fall by around 1.5 million tonnes in the fourth quarter compared with the year-earlier period as it idles capacity due to weakening demand and soaring energy prices, the company said.
The world's largest steelmaker earlier this month said it would curb output in Germany, Poland and Spain, notably by halting one blast furnace in each country.
Steelmaking is among energy-intensive industries grappling with mounting costs as reduced Russian gas supply upends the European market.
European steel producers are also facing ailing demand, particularly in the automotive sector, as the economic climate deteriorates, as well as rising imports from outside Europe, according to ArcelorMittal.
"Overall, customer sentiment today is at a lower level than during the Covid crisis in 2020," an ArcelorMittal spokesperson for Europe said in emailed comments.
In France, the company is planning to use a furlough scheme for workers on certain days for the rest of the year, a local spokesperson said, confirming previous comments by union officials.
Output will be cut at its Florange processing site in eastern France, while the group will use planned maintenance on one of its two remaining blast furnaces at its Dunkirk primary production plant to lower output from October, the French spokesperson said, adding all sites in the country would shift activity more towards off-peak hours for energy consumption.
ArcelorMittal produced 8.6 million tonnes of steel in Europe in the fourth quarter of last year, just over half of its worldwide output.
For the second quarter of this year, the group had reported a near 10% year-on-year fall in total steel shipments, largely due to the impact of war in Ukraine.
(Reporting by Caroline Pailliez; additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; writing by Gus Trompiz; editing by Kirsten Donovan)