Though rejected by unions, the flexible lines would operate between 0% to 100% based on market value. After 2011, steel demand has continued to drop, with European steel falling another 8%-9% in 2012; it now rests at 29% below pre-crisis levels. Key automotive customers, meanwhile, have announced major restructuring, weakening appetites for flexible facilities.

Despite the blast furnace closures, the Liege facility reported an EBIT loss of more than $267 million until Q4 2012 and no 2013 improvement forecast alongside ongoing European market weakness.

Given an excess European coking coal supply, the coke plant will also be closed. Five strategic core lines for 800 workers will continue operating, though with company representatives noting their technical specialization.