Mechel OAO (NYSE: MTL) announces the commissioning of a new continuous casting machine at its Romanian steel plant Mechel Targoviste. The new unit will allow Mechel Targoviste to significantly reduce production costs and improve the quality of its long products. As part of the official commissioning, Mechel’s CEO, Mr. Igor Zyuzin, met the Prime-Minister of Romania, Mr. Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, to discuss further opportunities of Mechel’s business in Romania. </SUMMARY>
The project is part of a comprehensive production modernization program at Mechel Targoviste, which is being systematically implemented by Mechel OAO at this Romanian subsidiary. The investments in the continuous caster reconstruction and infrastructure amounted to approximately US$14.0 million. Mechel has invested a total of more than US$38.0 million in Mechel Targoviste since acquiring it, having significantly exceeded its obligations under the investment contract, which was closed earlier than required in late 2006.
Mechel’s achievements in Romania were discussed at the meeting of Mechel’s CEO, Mr. Igor Zyuzin, and the Prime-Minister of Romania, Mr. Calin Popescu-Tariceanu. Russian Ambassador Mr. Alexander Churilin and Minister for Economics and Trade Mr. Varuzhan Vozganyan were also present at the meeting. The Prime-Minister noted Mechel’s valuable contribution to the development of Romanian metallurgy and the parties also discussed the prospects of Mechel’s business in Romania.
The commissioning results in Mechel Targoviste fully utilizing continuous casting for all its production needs, enabling it to avoid casting steel into moulds and using blooming technology. This will significantly reduce the liquid steel consumption ratio in manufacturing billets, thus substantially reducing Mechel Targoviste’s production costs. The startup of the new machine will also enable improved product quality.
The design productivity of the new three-strand concaster is 500 thousand tonnes of billets annually. The new machine has replaced the plant’s obsolete concaster. The unit is capable of producing billets of 120 mm х 120 mm, 140 m х 140 mm, and 150 mm х 180 mm sections from various grades of steel. While the production of commercial billets is possible, the concaster’s output will be primarily used for further processing billets into long products at the plant. The equipment was manufactured by CONCAST and installed by the Romanian specialists under the supplier’s supervision.
The commissioning of the new continuous caster allows for the casting of practically all grades of the plant’s product mix, including low-alloyed and alloyed steel. The significant reconstruction of the concaster included changing the machines’ technological axis and broadening the product mix in terms of the billet size and grade. Implementation of the latest achievements in the areas of continuous caster design and continuous casting technology allows the plant to reduce the number of strands from four to three, while at the same time almost doubling the machine’s throughput capacity. A section for retarded cooling of the billets was constructed to produce high-carbon and alloyed steel billets. The concaster is based on state-of-the-art technological solutions and meets all manufacturing requirements.
The new unit utilizes a crystallizer, which increases the speed of casting by 1.5 to 2 times and significantly improves the quality characteristics of the surface of the billet. Also, the new complex is fully automatic in casting and crystallizing, which allows for maintaining stable parameters of casting as well as the ability to control and correct the manufacturing process to achieve optimal results. This automatic control system allows for casting both construction-type and quality industrial steels, used in machinery, pipe and ball-bearing production.
The commissioning of the new concaster became an important stage in the program of modernization of the entire production chain’s equipment and technology at Mechel Targoviste. The project implementation was preceded by the commissioning of the facility’s upgraded Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) in early 2006, which allowed for a significant reduction in production costs with a concurrent increase of the EAF’s productivity. The entire output of steel melted with the new EAF will be cast into billets at the continuous caster. A modern electrical gas cleaning and water treatment system was installed at the electric-furnace melting shop earlier in compliance with the requirements of the European environmental standards and in connection with the production reconstruction.
The program of technical re-equipment at Mechel Targoviste will be continued this year. In the short term there is a plan to modernize the plant’s rolling facilities.
“With the commissioning of the new concaster, Mechel Targoviste becomes one of the most modern European steel producers. The radical reconstruction of steel production at this facility, has allowed the plant to improve its operational and financial performance. Mechel’s management demonstrated again its capability to transform an obsolete, unprofitable production facility and adapt it to a highly competitive market environment. We are proud of the results achieved at Mechel Targoviste, our principal Romanian enterprise, and are currently focused on the financial turnaround of another asset, Mechel Campia Turzii,” Mechel’s Chief Operating Officer Alexey Ivanushkin commented.