Vietnam’s Hoa Phat Group confirmed on Wednesday during Kallanish’s tour of the Dung Quat plant that the site’s banked No. 3 blast furnace will be restarted in early April.

The furnace is one of four at the plant, each with 1 million tonnes/year of capacity. Currently, two blast furnaces are in production and two are banked, with the restart potentially leaving just one furnace banked. The whole plant has crude steel capacity of 5.6m t/y, hot rolled coil capacity of 3.5m t/y and 2.6m t/y of construction long products capacity.

The three longs rolling lines at the plant are also out of operation, with Hoa Phat saying they have almost completed maintenance. Hoa Phat sources suggest that some longs rolling capacity could come back on-stream. However, this could not be confirmed with other sources at the plant.

The facility is not operating its HRC mill at full capacity. The company thin-casts slab with thicknesses of around 70-90mm, and feeds this directly into the hot strip mill, meaning the sale of merchant slab does not make sense for the plant, Kallanish understands.

It remains to be seen where the increase in steel output will be sold. HRC markets are already well supplied in the region, market sources note. There are also new regional HRC mills coming on-stream this year, including at Eastern Steel in Malaysia. However, if Hoa Phat increases its HRC output, some will likely have to be exported as domestic markets are becoming saturated.

The company had to idle two blast furnaces in late 2022 due to the weak market. Vietnam’s steel demand remains constrained by a tight credit environment and a crackdown on corruption and high real estate prices. 

The tour of the Hoa Phat was part of the Kallanish Asia Steel Markets conference taking place in Ho Chi Minh City over 28-30 March.