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25 October 2011
The Problematic antiquity
Ukrainian Mining and Metallurgical Complex urgently need to upgrade their production operation.
/Rusmet.ru, Valery Fortunin/ The crisis revealed the tight situation of the Ukrainian Mining and Metallurgical Complex, and forced them to search for ways of competitive recovery of the enterprises. One cannot claim that the leadership of the enterprises doesn't comprehend the urgency of the changes. Introducing the systems of coal injections, which allows saving on expensive natural gas in blast-furnace production, shows that energy efficiency today is considered to be one of the important tasks of industry. However, this is not the only task.
On Old Stocks
Now it is hard to predict, how Ukrainian metallurgy would appear today without the billions of Soviet rubles invested in 80's for the modernization of enterprises. But it is still a pity, for example, because «Zaporizhstal» couldn't transform into a converter production in time, which reflected the economic state of enterprise.
Here, like in other plants, pre-crisis steel production was conducted with the help of old open-hearth furnaces. However, metal had its demand, so the furnaces were used at the highest possible capacity. In Russia in the prosperous pre-crisis times from 2002-2008 years the market portion of open-hearth furnaces was decreased in production, decreasing from 25 to 10%. It's hard to say that the leadership of Ukrainian enterprises didn't want to change the open-hearth furnaces into converters; the question is that no one allocated the necessary money.
In 2000 the general volume of melted steel in Ukraine the portion of electric furnace made up only 3%, oxygen-converted – 47.5%, open-hearth furnace – 49.1 %. Only 19% of produced steel was prepared according to the technologies of continuous casting. The general wear of fixed assets in mining and metallurgy complex of Ukraine in 2000 reached 70-75%. For the next 10 years the portion of open-hearth furnace steel decreased to just 40 % (2010), oxygen-converter – increased to 55%, electric furnace – to 5%. With the help of CC machines produced about 40% of steel.
But during this time equipment continued to wear out. Ecological requirements continued to tighten, which couldn't be solved without the transformation of technology. On the eve of this crisis, the wear of fixed assets of the largest metallurgy enterprise of Ukraine «Arselor Mettal Krivoy Rog» reached 84.3%, « Ilyich Steel & Iron Works» - 51.8%, «Azovstal» - 59.8%. As a whole, in Ukraine were operated longer than its lifetime work - 54% of coke batteries, 89% of blast-furnaces, 87% of open-hearth furnaces, 26% of converters and a little bit less 90% of roll mill.
When the crisis happened, old capacities were the first to be removed from line. Thus in September of this year were operated 29 blast furnaces from 36, 14 open-hearth furnaces from 21, 6 electric furnaces from 15, 17 from 21 converters. But still, among equipment which is available now, as a rule, it is difficult to call the last word of technology. That's why the owners of enterprises perfectly understand that without modernization of production capacity their products can lose demand in the market because of the disadvantageous «price-quality» correlation. This is when we have the cheapest work force among the European enterprises-opponents. Russia has no less convincing arguments while they have their own raw materials and energy resources. And China, according to the level of modernization, gave few chances to their Ukrainian colleagues.
We need to acknowledge that many enterprises of this industry have gone through employee optimization. Reduction of staff is a very troublesome and negative deed, which influences the image of enterprise. Especially if it's a main-employer. In general, the mining and metallurgy complex of Ukraine cannot manage without modernization and new technologies. There is simply no other way.
Consolidation of knowledge and efforts
It's hard to predict how the owners of the largest Ukrainian enterprises of mining and metal complex will behave. Everyone has its own plans. But in any case, the process of modernization has already started, and it will continue to proceed. Where there are means for total reconstruction, the most recent implementations will be integrated, and where there is a lack of it, the oldest and energy consuming equipment will be modernized step-by-step.
That it is well known in Ukraine was confirmed by the leader of Premium Engineering LTD Oleg Gryb. His company provides services in the sphere of selection and complex supply of technologies, equipment of the world leading producers to carry out the complex modernization of the main funds, and also promoting the guarantee and after guarantee services of supplied equipment:
«We are keeping a close watch on the situation in the mining-metallurgy complex of Ukraine. We understand that the crisis and the state independent interest policy of owners of the enterprises doesn't provide the opportunity to reach the significant consolidate success on the world markets of metal, where about 80% of steel output produced in Ukraine is directed. We also understand that in the future it will be impossible to enlarge the internal market. Though there is still a reserve. The native consumers of steel and alloys buy about a million tons of metal of analogue nomenclature, which is also produced here in Ukraine. This means that there are some reasons which make us choose the foreign producer.
Open-hearth furnace production has already deteriorated fully. It's becoming unprofitable to invest in it, and the market is doomed to be closed with transforming on converters and electric furnaces. Therefore, we turned our attention to the agglomeration and blast-furnace sector, where the variants of modernization are possible, which will bring significant profits. Beginning from the conservation of resources and finishing with the ecology».
The acquaintance with advanced technologies in this field happened in the frame work of the scientific and technical conference of «Advanced European technologies for enterprises of mining and metallurgy complex of Ukraine». It's noticeable, that invited German and Austrian experts not only advertised some developments, but concretely shared the experience of implementation of the new technologies at voestalpine plant in Linz. The attendees gathered from every large Ukrainian enterprise and organization that was in some way or another connected with agglomeration and blast-furnace production.
For more efficient work in conference designers, as well as those who will operate this equipment both took part, thus complementing each other. The charging system designed by Zimmermann & Jansen No bell Top caused enough emotional reaction of attendees. The other side was even surprised at that interest, expressed by the metallurgists while discussing the speech about the results of implementing of this device at enterprise. It's surprising that they didn't know about such technologies before. It's turned out that they didn't know, and sincerely wondered that the implementation of such technology allows saving 20 kg of coke on tone of cast iron, without mentioning other benefits – such as relative cheapness and reliability.
Many enterprises are carrying out the monitoring of the new technologies. But we cannot always make the right choice, which meets the requirements of the enterprise. But with the help of such conferences there is an opportunity to choose the most effective technologies, which has gone through the approbation on the leading European enterprises. That, in its own turn, saves not only time and money, but allows avoiding mistakes.