Because saving Ilva means saving Italy. Writes Federico Pirro

Those who vehemently protested against the company’s decision to suspend the activities of 145 associated companies should jointly press for the Prime Minister and the ministers Giorgetti and Urso to define (ad horas) with Invitalia the use of the funds allocated by the Draghi government for Acciaierie d’Italia which can no longer work only for cash, while still ensuring investments for the completion of the Hague, purchase of raw materials and payment of wages to direct workers.

But it would be a fatal mistake if, in the excitement of the moment, one deliberately ignored what the iron and steel industry continues to represent for the local, regional and national economy. In fact, the recent publication of the extensive 2021 Sustainability Report regarding the plant deserves to be reported not only to insiders, but also to a wider public opinion because it launches an annual sustainability reporting process and represents the basis on which the Company, with timing aligned with that of preparing the financial statements, undertakes to provide information on internal and external processes of the company of interest to its stakeholders.

Acciaierie d’Italia’s decision resumes what was interrupted in 2011, when the latest Sustainability Report was published. Thus, every year there will be a text to be analyzed with analytical rigor and with perspectives hopefully free from prejudicial positions and based instead on purely technical interpretations of all the aspects concerning the large Taranto site which, it must never be forgotten, is still in terms of number of direct employees, the largest manufacturing plant in Italy, as well as the largest integral-cycle steel plant in Europe, and which therefore in 2012 was classified by the Italian Parliament as a ‘site of national strategic interest’.


The heavy difficulties it is going through due to:

1) the postponement of the definition of the corporate structure between Invitalia and Arcelor to 2024;

2) the partial use of the three blast furnaces in operation with production volumes well below the 6 million tons per year permitted during the implementation of The Hague;

3) the increase in the cost of energy and raw materials; 4) systematic recourse to layoffs for a maximum of approximately 3,500 employees;

5) the late payments of related businesses, and above all;

6) due to the persistent lack of liquidity, due to lack of bank credit, which forces the company to work only for cash, could lead some to believe that the overall structure of companies and plants is now on the threshold of a substantial predecoction.

Nothing could be more wrong: in fact, thanks to the strenuous daily commitment of the top management and the first line of management, to the heroic but by now exhausted capacity for resistance of the workers, middle managers, clerks and intermediates employed in the plant or in cig, and to the admirable capacity of resilience of related companies paid late, the large factory is still managing to ‘hold’ on the market, while Confindustria, Unions. Federacciai and large national mechanical companies have asked the new Government with renewed determination to speed up interventions aimed at consolidating the shareholding structure and at new investments in plants towards the gradual decarbonisation of their production cycles. So the Sustainability Report with the amount of data communicated by the company documents the actions already taken to complete the investments imposed by The Hague and to maintain and strengthen the steel mill on the market.


As is known, it is the productive heart of the entire organization of Acciaierie d’Italia Holding and represents 90% of it in terms of employment, economic and environmental impact and, for all those who are unaware or have forgotten or caused to be forgotten, the text of the Report mentions, albeit briefly, the start-up years of the hot-fired area with the first two blast furnaces, the expansion of ’68-’70 with the third AFO and the doubling of the ’70 -’75 with the last two Afos, including the imposing Afo 5. A steel industry that since 1957 was strongly desired by the ruling classes, social partners and citizens of Taranto, in the face of the dramatic structural and employment crisis of the historic local shipbuilding industry. On the popular mobilizations of those years there has long been an extensive scientifically rigorous bibliography which should be re-read and re-read by those who instead are trying to erase in the memory of the Tarantini the memory of the years in which the city fought (even in the squares) to obtain that factory because, as the Mayor of the time said, ‘he was hungry’ and therefore desperately asked for bread and work.

Now, due to lack of space, we will only focus on revenues, employment levels, product types, customers in Italy and abroad, orders to suppliers divided by geographical area, and investments in 2021: in short, everything the site used last year in terms of human resources, base minerals, third-party supplies and plant operations. generating significant revenues, while on the aspects concerning the environmental impact and its progressive mitigations, illustrated in the Report, qualified testimonies and documented interventions by officials of Ispra and Arpa are expected – who carry out the surveys on the implementation of the Hague and the constant monitoring emissions – by Asl and Spesal, if applicable by the Cnr, and by the Polytechnic of Bari, within their respective areas of competence.


The plant employs 8,165 workers divided as follows, 8,122 men and 43 women. The classification categories of the employed register 39 executives, 103 middle managers, 1,524 white collars, 865 intermediate and 5,604 manual workers. The age groups show 27 people under 30, 6,936 between 30 and 50, and 1,202 over 50. By place of origin, 6,993 employees come from the capital and its province, 1,113 from other provinces of Puglia and 59 from outside the region. Last year the site’s net operating revenues were 3,397 million, compared to 1,618 of the previous year, with a positive gross operating margin of 346.8 million, a positive pre-tax result of 101.8 million, and with taxes for 223.2 million and labor costs of 349.5 million.

The factory’s output in 2021 reached 4.1 million tons, compared to 3.4 in the previous year, and was 90.5% made up of coils and derivatives – covering 77% of the national market – 6% from heavy plates (40% of the Italian market), 3% from shaped tubes (65% of the domestic market), and 0.2% from ERW tubes, equal to 44% of the market Italian. 87% of finished products – equal to 3.3 million tons – were shipped by sea, thus fueling port movements together with those of raw materials – 11.9%, corresponding to 524 thousand tons, out of road, thus involving a significant number of road transport vehicles, and just over 20,000 tonnes, equivalent to 1.1%, by rail.

The suppliers of goods and services amounted to a total of 2,100, of which 320 in Puglia, and of these 221 operate in the province of Taranto, while 60 are in the Bari area, 23 in the Brindisi area, 11 in the Lecce area, 3 in the Bat and 2 in Capitanata . As regards the amounts ordered from Apulian suppliers, in 2021 they amounted to a total of 374.7 million, of which 279.8 for those in the province of Taranto, 53.6 million for Bari, 29.8 for from Brindisi, 11.2 for Salento, 20,000 euros for those of Bat and 270,000 euros for Foggia. 70% of Taranto’s production is destined for the domestic market and 30% for export. There are 489 customers of the plant in Italy, who buy 75.9% of the volumes sold, 200 in the EU (without our country), corresponding to 20% of the same volumes, 28 outside the EU who absorb 3.6% , and 15 in the rest of the world who buy 0.5%. In the European Union, 24 customers are in Germany – which purchase 8.4% of the site’s volumes – and 48 in the Iberian peninsula, which absorb 5.8% of the ionic output.

In Italy, 50.5% of the products shipped last year were destined for 115 users in the North East, 33.2% for 170 in the North West, and the remaining 16.3% for 253 in the Centre-South, for a national total of 538 units, a different number from that of the customers, because there may be several users supplied by just one of them.


The data reported, despite their schematic nature, are significant because they say things that many should think deeply about, namely that the site, despite the enormous difficulties mentioned above, was able to increase production in 2021, export 30%, to achieve a positive pre-tax result, to maintain in all ranges of its products, and in strong competition with national and foreign competitors, very high shares of the national market – especially in the North with which it is firmly integrated – and to still maintain a foreign clientele of appreciable size.

The related industries of the steel industry also involve hundreds of suppliers in Italy, of which those from Taranto account for the highest share in the Apulian supply chain. So this great national technological heritage must be immediately consolidated from a corporate, patrimonial and economic-financial point of view, modernized, made increasingly eco-sustainable and defended as a source of highly qualified employment for all those who work there and must remain a great strategic resource at the service of Taranto, Puglia and the country.

Because saving Ilva means saving Italy. Writes Federico Pirro –