LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Swedish specialty steel maker SSAB has postponed the restart of one of its three blast furnaces in Sweden due to weak market conditions, it said on Tuesday.
The company owns three blast furnaces in Sweden: two in Oxelsoeund and one in Lulea. One of the two blast furnaces in Oxelsoeund was shut temporarily last summer to carry out relining works.
Although the works were concluded last autumn, the producer decided not to restart the furnace until market conditions improve, a company spokeswoman said.
"The relining process ended in September-October as planned, but we have yet not restarted the furnace and we are still not able to give a restart date," she said.
"We are monitoring the market on a weekly basis. We want to see prices moving up before we take the furnace back into production. There has been some destocking in Europe, but this seems to be coming to an end."
Last week the Swedish steelmaker said it would slash costs by 800 million crowns ($121 million) and cut 200 jobs after a drop in demand due to Europe's debt crisis slammed quarterly earnings.
SSAB had built up inventories of steel slab, a semifinished flat steel product, before the Oxelsoeund furnace was shut down.
As these stocks were depleted in the third and fourth quarters of last year, the company has increased production slightly at its Lulea blast furnace in the past few months.
SSAB's Swedish operations are currently working at about 75 percent of capacity, slightly up from 70 percent in the third and fourth quarters.