Liberty Ostrava brought Blast Furnace No. 2, back online today after temporarily idling it in April due to a drop in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. During the almost four-month outage, the company performed CZK 44 million worth of repairs and maintenance on the blast furnace.
“The temporary shutdown of the furnace has allowed us to respond flexibly to the significant cooling of demand due to the coronavirus pandemic and to reduce stocks of semi-finished products ready for the start of the construction season. I am pleased,” CEO Pascal Genest said. According to him, this is proof that the company can adapt its operation to the market situation.
The furnace cooled down for 40 days after the shutdown, because the internal temperature reaches up to 2300 degrees Celsius during operation. Extensive repairs followed, including the replacement of the cooling piping and the modernization of the furnace cooling system, as well as the repair of air heaters, tariffs, skip tracks, and anther.
Together with Liberty Ostrava and its subsidiary Liberty Engineering Products Ostrava, companies from the region such as KADAMO, Hutní montáže Slovakia, and Special high-altitude work – Roland Babka also took part in the repairs.
According to metallurgical tradition, the company ignited the furnaces’ burners with fire from another blast furnace. “The first tapping of pig iron will follow after about 20 hours, but before the furnace produces iron that can be used for steel production, it will take a few more days,” said Václav Habura, director of production at Liberty Ostrava.
Blast furnace number 2 is 35 meters high and 70 meters wide. It was first fired up on October 1, 1952. The furnace can produce up to 3,200 tons of pig iron per day, according to the company.
Liberty Ostrava makes steel for the construction, engineering, and petrochemical industries. The company is a domestic leader in the production of road barriers and pipes. It supplies its products to more than 40 countries. Its annual production capacity is 3.6 million tons of steel. The company has 6,000 employees. The smelter joined the Liberty Steel Group last year, which is part of the global GFG Alliance group owned by British businessman Sanjeev Gupta.