Expensive energy slows down the zinc supply chain. Portovesme Srl of the Glencore group (operating in the industrial center of Portovesme in the Sulcis Iglesiente) which has activated the preparatory procedure for obtaining the extraordinary redundancy fund due to corporate crisis for 594 employees. «It is not a problem of the final market nor an internal fact – said Davide Garofalo, managing director -, everything derives from the increase in the prices of energy and raw materials. All reagents are being increased. It is also true that the metal is also increasing but not so much to compensate ». All linked to energy costs which have started to rise since May and which “in recent weeks has reached, and even exceeded, € 300 / MWh”. High amounts also in August (€ 158.79 / MWh) and September (€ 188.87 / MWh) especially if compared to last year’s 60-70 € / MWh. And the forecasts for October with averages above 200 € / MWh are not comforting either.
Social shock absorbers
Hence the decision to start the process for the activation of social safety nets lasting one year for direct employees (altogether around 1,300 people work around the non-ferrous metallurgical plant, between tenders and contractors). Inside the plant, a shutdown was also arranged “but it can restart at any time” of the left plant which “serves to power an energy-consuming line” and the remodeling of the electrolysis in which the activity is scheduled daily and carried out ” based on the cost of energy “.
A slowdown that will lead to a drop in production for the plant that annually produces 150,000 tons of zinc, 65,000 tons of lead, 200,000 tons of sulfuric acid, 3,000 tons of copper, two hundred of silver and one of gold. and has a turnover of around 500 million euros.
Now the focus is on European institutions and scenarios. «The hope is that prices will be controlled – adds Garofalo -. If the trend changes, the goal is to get started as soon as possible ». The trade unions also express concern, hoping for an intervention by the institutions.
“In the industrial center of Portovesme we have the first case in Sardinia of the impact of the energy transition that collides with high energy costs – comments Francesco Garau, secretary of Filctem Sardegna -, the company has accepted our proposal to tackle this situation without making it fall totally on the workers, thus anticipating, as far as possible, the maintenance work it would have done in another period. It is clear that if this situation persists we will have to face other situations ».