* Will suspend plate mill from Aug. 20 to at least end-Oct
* Plate mill has capacity of 500,000 tonnes per year
MILAN, July 30 (Reuters) - Russian steelmaker Evraz will suspend operations at a plate mill in Italy from Aug. 20 until at least the end of October due to unfavourable market conditions, the company said on Tuesday.
The closure adds to growing uncertainties in Italy’s steel industry, the second-largest in Europe after Germany‘s, which has been hard hit by environmental investigations and a drop in demand exacerbated by tough austerity policies.
The facility in northern Italy run by Evraz Palini e Bertoli SpA, a unit of the Russian group, has the capacity to produce 500,000 tonnes of steel plate of varying grades and sizes per year, according to the company’s website.
“(Evraz) will closely monitor the developments in the European plate market and any further decisions on reopening will be subject to prevailing market conditions,” it said in a statement.
Evraz said all shipments under the current order book would be executed while, following the suspension, customer orders will be channelled to other Evraz facilities “to the extent possible”.
The company said it did not expect the temporary closure to have a negative impact on the performance of the Russian operations, which previously supplied slabs to Palini e Bertoli.
Evraz did not provide any details about the potential impact of the closure on jobs in Italy, a country struggling with its longest recession since World War II.
Italy’s two largest steel producers, ILVA and Lucchini, have already been put under special administration, a procedure designed to save large companies and avoid big job losses.