NLMK La Louvière Launches a 150 million Euro Hot Strip Mill Upgrade to Produce Premium Steel

NLMK La Louvière, one of the leading producers of flat steel coils in Belgium and a company of NLMK Group, has embarked on a 150 million euro project to revamp its hot strip mill, expanding production of thinner, stronger and more environmentally friendly steel.

The investment is a part of the NLMK Group Strategy 2022. With this upgrade NLMK La Louvière will increase production from 1,7 mt to 2,2 mt by 2022 with a bigger share of the niche HRC market in the EU.

The extensive upgrade includes installation of the state-of-the art automation system, three new and three upgraded roll mill stands, new drives and motors as well as new run-out table, modernized cooling and water systems.

The project will enable the mill to expand production of high strength thin hot rolled coil (down to 1.2 mm), increase the range of high-strength products beyond 1000 MPa yield strength and provide customers with best-in-class surface and dimensional tolerances.

The first phase of the mill transformation is scheduled for early 2020, for completion in 2021. The contract has been awarded to Primetals Technologies, a leading supplier of solutions for the metals industry. The company has finalized basic engineering and launched production of the equipment.

Ben de Vos, CEO of NLMK International, said:

“This project helps achieve one of the key targets of NLMK Group’s Strategy 2022: to increase value added sales by 1.7 million tonnes globally. The increase is set to be delivered through the expansion of product mix and tolerances and following the evolving demands of our customers who continuously look for lighter, higher strength steels. This groundbreaking project is the biggest investment in our La Louvière site and its customers in the last decades and will be a cornerstone of its further development.”

Source: NLMK Europe

Primetals Technologies to modernize Zenith Steel billet caster with SRD segments and technological packages

Chinese steel producer Zenith Steel Group Co., Ltd. (Zenith Steel) awarded an order to Primetals Technologies to modernize a 10-strand billet caster in its converter steel making plant #3 in Changzhou. The billet caster will be the first one worldwide to be equipped with the new SRD (Single-Roll DynaGap) segments. The SRD segment has been specially developed for use in the area of final solidification, and it enables the upper rolls to be pressed down individually onto the solidifying strand. This enables the final solidification point to be followed precisely. Technological packages like DynaPhase, Dynacs 3D and DynaGap SoftReduction 3D will further improve the internal billet quality with regard to center porosity and center segregation. Start-up of the modernized casting machine is expected for March 2020.

  • World’s first application of SRD (Single-Roll DynaGap) segments in billet caster
  • SRD segments enable final solidification point to be followed precisely
  • Soft and Hard Reduction to be applied by SRD segments
  • Individually controlled rolls adjust optimally to strand condition
  • Technological packages further enhance internal billet quality

The 10-strand billet caster of Zenith Steel in its Changzhou, Jiangsu Province plant has a rated capacity of 2 million metric tons per year. It produces section with a cross section of 160 x 160 millimeters at a maximum casting speed of 2.4 meters per minute. Steel grades processed include low, medium and high carbon steels as well as tube, spring, cold heading and tyre cord steels.

Precise knowledge of the final solidification point and the associated soft reduction is needed to reliably produce billets for steel grades that require high internal quality. The new SRD segments from Primetals Technologies can be applied to the final solidification precisely. This enables each individual roll gap to be adjusted dynamically as a function of the steel grade, overheating, cooling or casting speed. Each roll transmits an individual force, which makes even higher thickness reduction rates possible, and reduces the segregation and porosity in the center of the strand. Additionally, thickness reduction of the billet or bloom also after final solidification is possible. This process is defined as Hard Reduction and can furthermore reduce the porosity of the cast billet and bloom.

SRD segments are designed for long operating cycles and easy maintenance. For example, each roll has its own overload protection, which prevents damage to the bearings and surfaces of the rolls. The rolls are embedded in a function unit so that they can be quickly replaced in a maintenance workshop. The individual roll units can also be tested and calibrated before installation of the segments in the caster.

Technological packages to be supplied by Primetals Technologies include process models for soft and hard reduction, namely DynaPhase, Dynacs 3D and DynaGap SoftReduction 3D. The DynaPhase online thermodynamic phase transformation model calculates material properties like thermal enthalpy, thermal conductivity, density and solid fraction. The Dynacs 3D secondary-cooling model is capable of calculating the full 3D strand-temperature profile at any position along the strand for optimum adjustment of the secondary-cooling setpoints and the determination of the point of final strand solidification. Finally, DynaGap SoftReduction 3D fully automatic roll-gap control system allows for dynamic soft reduction to minimize centerline segregation for improved internal strand quality

Within the current modernization project, Primetals Technologies is also responsible for the basic and detail engineering and supply of mechanical equipment like roller blocks, spray header and WSU units as well as the complete basic (level 1) automation system.

Zenith Steel is privately owned and operates an integrated steel mill in Changzhou in the Jiangsu province of China. The company’s steel mill has a production capacity of more than ten million metric tons of steel per year. Zenith Steel manufactures a wide range of end products, including steel pipes, bearing and spring steel, and various structural steels. In 2011, Primetals Technologies supplied a bloom caster for big round casting sections, and in 2016 added a casting section format of 280×320 mm.

3-D view of withdrawal unit with SRD segments for hard reduction


Source: Primetals Technologies

Thyssenkrupp Rasselstein Has 48-Year Old Tandem Cold Mill Modernized By SMS Group

In March 2019, thyssenkrupp Rasselstein GmbH has awarded SMS group an order covering the modernization of the oil application system of the tandem cold mill No. 2.

With the current modernization, thyssenkrupp Rasselstein wants to adjust the oil application system of the tandem cold mill to the continuously increasing future market requirements regarding product quality and thus further expand its market position.

At the time of commissioning in 1971, the six-stand tandem cold mill No. 2 was considered the latest cold rolling mill of this type in the Federal Republic of Germany. It already had a high degree of automation and achieved very good strip qualities at rolling speeds of up to 2,400 meters per minute.

The modernization is aimed at achieving a high degree of flexibility regarding the control of various process-influencing parameters for the production of state-of-the-art end products.

In addition to providing the required design services and supplying all mechanical equipment as well as the electrical and automation systems, the contracted scope of SMS group and Lux Automation GmbH, a company of SMS group, includes the dismantling of the old systems as well as the erection and commissioning of the new equipment.

The modernization will be implemented in two stages of construction. Commissioning of the second construction phase is scheduled for 2021.

thyssenkrupp Rasselstein GmbH is a subsidiary of thyssenkrupp Steel Europe and ranks among the three largest packaging steel producers in Europe. At the world’s largest production site for packaging steel in Andernach, Germany, thyssenkrupp Rasselstein produces tinned and special chromium-coated thin sheet (tinplate) on the basis of cold-rolled sheet steel.

Source: SMS Group

Rising Nickel Costs Squeeze Stainless Steel Producers’ Margins

Rising nickel prices have lifted the input costs for most stainless steel producers, significantly, in recent months. In many parts of the world, however, suppliers have been unable to pass the total amount of this increase on to their customers. The steelmakers, therefore, are forced to absorb the rising price of raw materials, thus cutting – or eliminating – their profit margins.

Only in North America have recent increases in alloy extras been fully applied, without cuts in basis values. This may become more difficult to sustain, in the coming months, as surcharges continue to rise, but end-user demand remains modest.

The price of nickel has been pushed up by predictions of future supply tightness. Consumption will be boosted by the metal’s use in batteries for the growing number of electric vehicles. Fears of possible shortages were raised, recently, by confirmation of an imminent ban on nickel ore exports, by the authorities in Indonesia. Although outside parties have announced plans to invest in nickel refining facilities in Indonesia, the ban will result in reduced supply, from the country, in the short-to-medium term.

Demand for stainless steel, conversely, is rather subdued. Trade actions, by the United States, have slashed the volume of shipments – of steel, and manufactured goods – from China, and other Asian countries. In turn, this has negatively affected the ability of consumers, in these emerging economies, to buy goods from prestige suppliers in many developed countries.

Producers, particularly in the traditional stainless steelmaking regions, continue to struggle with growing global excess capacity. European mills find it increasingly difficult to compete with price offers from Asia, for commodity grades. However, they may receive some temporary respite, in the near future, as the EC Safeguarding quota tonnages for several stainless steel product forms are projected to be exhausted, before the end of the quota period.

Source: MEPS International Ltd.MEPS Stainless Steel Review

US Steel Prices Stall Following Recent Revival

The recent revival in US flat steel product prices appears to have come to a halt, this month. The consensus view, from MEPS’ September research, is that US selling values have plateaued – with figures expected to be under negative pressure for the remainder of 2019.

Ahead of the seasonally slower fourth quarter, US steel manufacturers are likely to be intent on minimising the extent of the price erosion – with few market signals giving them cause for optimism. A combination of weak demand and relatively high domestic production is a threat to the sustainability of current prices.

Activity levels, in the US, are likely to soften, in the coming months. A slowdown in major end-user markets, such as automotive, construction and energy, is widely anticipated. Domestic capability utilisation remains around the 80 percent mark. Several US steelmakers have already outlined their plans to reduce output, next month, by taking extended periods of maintenance. The impact on the market is projected to be negligible, given that domestic supply is still likely to exceed demand.

Imported volumes remain an influence on the US steel market, despite the implementation of Section 232 measures. Recent exemptions for neighbouring Canada and Mexico, as well as quota agreements on steel imports from Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Korea, have reduced the impact of the current trade legislation.

A number of political and economic uncertainties, in the regional and global steel markets, persist. The ongoing trade tensions between the US and China will do little to boost buyer confidence, in the short term.

However, MEPS predicts that US steel prices have the potential to rise, once again, at the beginning of next year. A seasonal upturn in steel purchasing and an expected recovery in scrap costs are likely to exert upward pressure on US selling figures, in early 2020.

Source: MEPS International Ltd.MEPS International Steel Review

Falling Raw Material Costs Add to The Negative Trend in Northern European Steel Prices

Northern European suppliers of flat steel products report sluggish activity, since the end of the summer vacation period. Carmaking, in Western Europe, continues to be depressed, while other manufacturing sectors show little sign of picking up. Falling raw material costs add to the negative trend in northern European steel prices. Few third country offers are attractive, with local prices at the current low levels. A substantial quantity of imported material is already available, at European ports.

Hot Rolled Coil

Purchasing activity failed to pick up, in Denmark, following the summer holiday period. Prices are under downward pressure despite the regional mills’ proposed increases. Customers, in Sweden, report declining demand. Producers predict a further slowdown, but selling values are, currently, stable, in local currency terms. Finnish sales activity is satisfactory but beginning to decrease. The mills’ forward order books are quite short. In Norway, current sales volumes are a little lower than before the summer break. Delivery lead times are shrinking.

Hot Rolled Plate

Demand continues to slow, in Denmark, under the influence of regional and global factors. In Sweden, project work is limited, and truck manufacturers are expected to reduce their output. Selling values are unchanged, in September, but remain under negative pressure. Russian producers are active in the Finnish market, due to a shortage of large scale gas pipeline projects, at home. Marine construction – using shipbuilding grades – is busy, in Norway.


Cold Rolled Coil

Regional mills announced increased official prices, in September, in an attempt to offset the negative effects of falling raw material costs and declining demand. This succeeded, in Denmark, where cold rolled coil values were stable, this month. Orders from European OEMs slowed, somewhat, in Sweden, in recent weeks. However, the country maintains strong export sales, boosted by the weak local currency. Spot prices are decreasing, in Finland, as a result of reduced mill input costs and mediocre purchasing activity. Cold rollers in the north of Europe are suffering from the slump in the automotive sector. Sales volumes are slightly down, year-on-year, in Norway. Prices are stable, in local currency terms, although the krone is weakening, against the euro.

Coated Sheet and Coil

Danish buyers report that European mills have spare capacity for October and November deliveries, while importers are quoting similar prices to those of local suppliers, for December arrival. The uncertain outlook, for the local carmaking and building sectors, is key to the galvanised steel market, in Sweden. The drop in demand, from the major consumers of galvanised sheet and coil, continues to have a negative effect on selling values, in Finland. Sales tonnages are decreasing, in Norway.


Source: MEPS International Ltd.MEPS European Steel Review Supplement