The final days of Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal, also known as Cockerill Sambre Chertal was a hot rolling steel mill in the Liege area. As of today,the steel factory is being demolished. Let's venture inside for one last time and see what is left.

urbex steel factory steel mill liege

Heavy Metal, also known as “Cockerill Sambre Chertal” and “Société Anonyme Métallurgique d’Espérance-Longdoz” was a very large steel rolling mill in Liege. Over the past years, it has been a very popular urbex location, but hard to get to due to the surprisingly active security. Let’s begin with some background on the mill.

a photograph of a ladle bucket used to transport molten steel
One of the many ladles that were used to transport molten steel


The factory was built in 1963 as part of the Espérance-Longdozcompany. It was capable of producing up to 1.6 million tons of steel. The company has a long name and ownership history. The first change was in 1970 when its parent company Espérance-Longdoz was sold to form Cockerill-Ougrée-Providence, which merged into Cockerill-Sambre in 1981, Usinor in 1998, Arcelor in 2002 and finally into ArcelorMittal in the year of 2006. The steel factory was shut down in the year 2009 after the financial crisis of 2007-2010.

The factory was one of many, it was supplied from the blast furnaces Hauts Fourneaux 6 and Hauts Fourneaux B (also known as HF6 and HFB). After the raw material was processed in the furnaces, the liquid cast iron was transported to Heavy Metal via torpedo wagons. Once it arrived at the factory, it was refined into steel using the Linz – Donawitz process. The steel was then converted to sheets and other products, after which it was transported all over the world.

a photograph of the suburbs of the city of liege. the photo is taken from inside the Chertal steelworks of Cockerill Sambre
A view to the outside, many small buildings are already demolished


Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. That saying goes for Heavy Metal too. A permit to demolish Heavy Metal and up to 300 other buildings (including Hauts Fourneaux B) was given in 2018.  As of March 9th 2022 demolition has officially begun. The demolition project costs around 30 million euros and is said to last for four years, studies will have to determine the cost of sanitizing the surrounding grounds.

Current state

I have visited Heavy Metal once before, in the beginning of 2022. During this visit, I ran into security and was escorted off of the site. After hearing about the demolition progress, I decided to visit Heavy Metal for one last time. I visited on the 11th of December in 2022. About a third of the factory has been demolished. The front office is still there, but stripped and completely black from a fire. The factory’s interior is still there: cranes, ladles, carts and much more. But it is being taken down with fast progress.

Taking the demolition progress aside, Heavy Metal has seen better days. Although some parts are in a wonderful state, many parts are in a very bad state, it was still a beautiful place to see. Control rooms were mostly vandalized, but the crane operating rooms were still in a decent state. Enough said, let’s get into the pictures.

Pictures are taken with a Sony α7 IV using Sigma lenses 12-24 mm F2.8 and 24-70 mm.