In 1927 a decision was made to build a quarry to cover the demand for flux from the Lipetsk iron and steel industry.
A standalone shop, Studenovsky Quarry Mines, was set up in 1928.
On 21 August 1928, the Regulations on the Studenovskoye Mining Administration were developed. M. A. Titov was the first to be appointed Head of Administration. Construction of the quarry began.
33,000 tonnes of limestone was hand-mined in 1928.
The “Shock Work Five-Year Plan”
The first five-year plan was developed in April 1929. The large-scale industrial construction programme included plans for a cast iron plant in Lipetsk, along with steelmaking plants in Magnitogorsk, Kuznetsk and Krivoi Rog.
The construction project for the new steelmaking plant in Lipetsk was designed at the Leningrad State Institute for Designing Iron and Steel Plants (Lengipromez). That was the time when the name of the construction project, Lipetskstroy, first occurred in documentation and in print.
In 1929 the Moscow Geological Administration estimated the reserves of the Studenovskoye fluxing limestone deposit at 9.7 million cubic metres and ranked it the largest in the European part of the USSR.
Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works project
In January 1930, a delegation of Lipetsk workers met with J. Vareikis, Secretary of the Voronezh Regional Committee of the AUCP(b) of Central Black Earth Region to speed up a decision-making process with regard to the start of construction of the new Lipetsk Region steelmaking plant. The technical council of Lengipromez finally approved the project specification for the Lipetsk plant in October, followed by its validation by the technical council of the Steel association.
Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works (NLMZ) construction
Construction of the steelmaking plant in Lipetsk began in March 1931. Yan Berzin was in charge of the project. After a pine forest had been cleared and stumps pulled, workers began by digging wells of drinking water and building a mechanical saw mill. The second facility to be built was a power plant. In summer, over 10 km of railway track was laid from Kazinka station to the Lipetskstroy construction site. Construction work of the main production site began.
Active construction of NLMZ
There were 4,000 people working at the construction site by the end of 1932. A year later, the number of construction workers and installers reached 8,000. Training of professional personnel began in February 1932 by the faculty of a basic workschool, which offered the opportunity to obtain a profession in two years’ time, such as assistant steam turbine operator, blast furnace keeper, gas watchman or electrician. The first batch to graduate numbered 180 people. By the time the first blast furnace was commissioned, 460 foremen, technicians and qualified workers had been trained there; 1,525 people had attended classes where the basics of technical safety had been taught, while some of the employees had done internships at iron foundry facilities in Ukraine and Tula. The most skilled steelworkers came from other plants.
Equipment installation at NLMZ
The construction of Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works intensified in 1933. Blast furnaces, the cogeneration plant and a blower house were swiftly built, as well as a station, a garage, a brick canteen building, a food store and the plant’s central office.
Launch of Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works
In April 1934, lining of blast furnace No. 1 was completed and a 24,000 kWh turbine generator unit was installed at the cogeneration plant.
In accordance with the joint resolution issued by the city and regional authorities as well as the Municipal District Committee of the AUCP(b), dated 22 October 1934, it was required that “Comrade Berzin and the Party Committee (represented by Comrade Altukhova) make the most of the time left prior to the blast furnace launch, not only to test mechanisms but primarily focus on their operation at full load during these days, thoroughly inspect them and eliminate the slightest defects of all units and mechanisms which service the blast furnace.”
The Stakhanovite movement at NLMZ
In the first quarter of 1935, the plant produced 47,000 tonnes of pig iron while in the fourth quarter the figure went up to 68,000 tonnes. Blast furnace No. 1 produced its 1,000th melt on 21 May 1935. The plant outstripped its annual target by 1,200 tonnes.
Kalinin’s visit to NLMZ
1,043 followers of Alexei Stakhanov’s approach worked efficiently at NLMZ in January 1936. In June, the plant’s performance achievements were recognised at the top national leadership level. Mikhail Kalinin , Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union, made a visit to NLMZ.
Yan Berzin’s arrest
On 3 June 1937, NLMZ Director Yan Berzin spoke at the city conference on the plant’s outlook for development in the third five-year period:
“The new 1,300 cbm furnaces are to be commissioned by 1939. In technical terms, this is quite feasible... Therefore, pig iron production is planned as follows: 502,000 tonnes in 1938, 939,000 tonnes in 1939, 1,368,000 tonnes in 1940, 1,419,000 tonnes in 1941 and 1,419,000 tonnes in 1942.”
Results of the second five-year period
By the end of the decade, the plant’s output was 20 times higher than in 1935. 229 members and candidate members of the AUCP(b) worked at the plant in early 1938. The largest of the party organisations were those of the blast furnace shop, cogeneration plant and railway shop.
The Red Banner of NLMZ
Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works celebrated its first milestone anniversary appropriately. From the Order on the plant’s performance in 1934–1939:
On 23 April 1939 the plant was awarded the Transferable Red Banner by the Central Committee of the Iron and Steel Industry Union of the Centre, for successful elimination of illiteracy.
NLMZ as a pacesetter
78.8% of all personnel at the plant were Stakhanovites and shock workers by 1940. The number of improvement ideas grew from 52 in 1935 to 186 in 1940. Top performers actively supported the movement encouraging multitasking which became popular in 1940. When this movement emerged, 11 people at the plant began operating a few machines simultaneously and 52 workers began combining jobs.
In November 1940, the primary workschool was reorganised as a vocational school by order of the director.
This is how the war began
NLMZ operated at its full capacity until late June 1941. Feedstocks ran out in August, coke and iron ore delivery from the Donbass stopped, with supply of raw materials from the Eastern regions fairly irregular. Nevertheless, everyone was willing to work twice as hard to support the war effort by improving pig iron production. Za Chugun newspaper issue dated 16 August 1941 reported the news that workers had been working double shifts since the first days of the war.
As soon as the great defence of the country began, hundreds of workers, engineers and white-collar employees at NLMZ submitted applications to the Party Committee, the Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League and the enlistment office, volunteering to join the army and be sent to the battlefield.
The second evacuation of NLMZ
On 23 January 1942, after the Nazi army had been defeated near Moscow and Soviet troops had taken the offensive, the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR decided to restore the Novolipetsk plant, by Resolution No. 78-310. The equipment was shipped back to Lipetsk and the installation began. In just three months the steelworkers, builders and residents of the city and nearby villages restored blast furnace No. 1 and the boiler and electrics of the cogeneration plant powered by the ‘Svobodny Sokol’ Lipetsk Iron Works required for furnace operation, in addition to the water supply, iron foundry, machine- and electrical shops.
The plant restoration
In February 1943, NLMZ took the Pruzhanskaya machine and tractor station in Vodopyanovsky District under its patronage and provided them with a lot of support until the end of the war. Machine operators were supplied with coal and iron, qualified workers were sent to the station to help repair farming equipment, and tractor spare parts were manufactured.
Prior to the Battle of Kursk, NLMZ had provided the front with all things necessary. Military hardware repair facilities, ammunition depots and food storages were set up in a pine forest at the plant’s premises.
In 1944 the machine pool of the plant significantly increased, as did the pig iron casting capacity. The target that year was topped by 15% and the technical infrastructure was substantially improved. The number of workers grew, exceeding 1,000 people.
The plant’s workers, engineers and technicians, inspired by the Red Army’s victories in 1944, made a commitment to produce 300 tonnes of cast iron and 200 tonnes of plumbing rebar above the annual target, as well as to ensure 1,400,000 rubles in savings in excess of the plan. They made good on their promise. The 1944 production target was outstripped by 12%.
In anticipation of victory
Victory in the ‘Great Patriotic War’ caused an unheard-of uplift in workers’ enthusiasm and labour morale. Even the iron foundry shop, which had been lagging behind, topped its half-year target. The plant ranked first among the city’s companies in terms of performance. It was awarded the Transferable Red Banner of the City Committee of the AUCP(b) and the Municipal Executive Committee.
By autumn 1945, construction of the steel structures shop was completed. Steel production was set up and an electric arc furnace was installed. The number of workers and engineers grew to 1,900 people.
Restoration of NLMZ
Pavel Sergeev became Head of Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works in 1946. Reconstruction of the plant destroyed during the war began under his leadership. In March 1946, the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union approved a plan for revival and development of the country’s national economy. About 6,000 large industrial facilities were to be reconstructed and commissioned as part of the fourth five-year plan, including Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works. According to the plan, a 1,000 cbm blast furnace was to be rebuilt within five years.
NLMZ was being reborn. All city residents who were capable of working voluntarily participated in the reconstruction of the plant on weekends. Construction workers worked around the clock.
Expanding the range of products
Figure 3. BF-1 reconstruction. 1947
The 1947 gross production target for the entire plant was exceeded by 12%.
Performance according to the plan demonstrated in key products was as follows: cast iron – 126.0%, cast steel – 117.5%, plumbing rebar – 192.5%, cast steel valves – 58.8%, forged valves – 61.4%, sirocco fans – 103.3%, farming machinery spares – 111.6%, consumer goods – 105.6%. Gross production increased by 21.2% compared with 1946.
The 1948 gross production target was outstripped by 34.6%. The performance demonstrated vs. planning in the core products was as follows:
Cast iron – 120.5%
Cast steel – 141.3%
Plumbing rebar – 159.9%
Cast steel valves – 124.0%
Forged valves – 121.1%
Fans – 115.6%
Restoration of the cogeneration plant
On 28 April 1949, the first stage of the rebuilt cogeneration plant was put in operation, namely one 25,000 kW turbine generator and two steam boilers with a capacity of 90–110 tonnes per hour. Aside fr om power generation, the cogeneration plant supplied heat to the Lipetsk Tractor Plant.
Innovators working at NLMZ repeatedly participated in contests wh ere the best improvement ideas were reviewed. Due to their efforts, twenty ideas of those implemented in 1949 saved outgoings of 247,000 rubles, or 57% of the annual target.
Rebuilding blast furnace No. 1
In 1950 the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the government proposed the following goal: “The iron and steel industry must reach its pre-war level as soon as possible and outstrip it by 35% on average.” The new battle for steel began. On 22 December 1950, the first 1,000 cbm blast furnace was put in operation.
Ivan Kupriyanov took part in the launch of the first post-war furnace, the gas watchman who went on to become chief gas watchman of blast furnace shop No. 1.
Afterwards, due to his professional expertise, he was invited to work at the construction of blast furnace No. 6, and participated in its installation, implementation and commissioning. He was awarded the Hero of Socialist Labour title in 1971.
Rebuilding blast furnace No. 2
In 1951 the workers of the blast furnace shop entered a socialist competition for reaching projected production capacity ahead of schedule. Six months later, the second 1,000 cbm blast furnace produced its first pig iron. The Technical Training Department headed by I. Ivanisov trained blast furnace keepers, gas watchmen and track-scale operators to service BF-2.
By the end of the year two blast furnaces produced 780–800 tonnes of pig iron daily, nearing their design capacity.
In 1952 the Council of Ministers of the USSR decided to construct manufacturing shops at NLMZ.
The socialist competition became more intense at the plant after the war.
The employees worked hard to stay ahead of schedule fulfilling their production programme and improve their performance in terms of quality. The first half-year target was outstripped by 32%. Hundreds of tonnes of high grade pig iron were produced above target. The effective volume utilisation factor for one of the blast furnaces was brought up to 1.07 versus the projected 1.12 . Fast metal working techniques were widely implemented at the machine shop.
Transition to the integrated plant
Lipetskstroy completed the reconstruction of the Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works in 1953.
In February 1953, the Ministry of Ferrous Metallurgy decided to set up an electrical steel production facility at NLMZ. A large electric arc furnace (EAF) shop, cold-rolling and hot-rolling steel shops (afterwards named flat rolling shops No. 1 and 2) and several coke batteries were planned to be built for this purpose. It was also necessary to boost the capacity of the plant’s cogeneration plant. The plant was gradually evolving into an integrated iron and steel works.
In 1954 NLMZ showed good performance in particular production areas: the gross output target was outstripped by 6.1% while the marketable products plan was exceeded by 5.7%.
Launch of rolled steel production in Lipetsk
The first steel strip was produced at flat rolling shop No. 1 on 17 July 1957 using a type-1200 mill that was put into operation. NLMZ previously had no shops to manufacture rolled steel products.
The shop began operation using slabs delivered from Nizhny Tagil, but supply was extremely irregular. This led to a breakthrough in plant production. The mill would feature furnace coilers and was designed to produce grain-oriented steel in coils for subsequent conversion.
Large-scale production upgrade
On 28 March 1958, the Council of Ministers of the USSR issued a resolution aimed at increasing the design capacity of the Novolipetsk plant. In June, the government approved a production expansion project developed by the Leningrad State Institute for Designing Iron and Steel Plants (Lengipromez).
On 31 December 1958, the first stage of the EAF shop was commissioned.
The world’s first continuous casting
100% casting began at NLMZ in July 1959. Continuous casting has a number of advantages over the conventional method of casting in molds. Benefits are enormous and it was Lipetsk steelworkers that were the first in the world to adopt this technology.
Using continuous casting machines for slab production allows for a 75–80% of saving of power compared to casting in molds, with subsequent reduction at slabbing mills. Yield in this case reaches 93–95% versus 60–70%. The area of the steel foundry can be reduced almost by half, pig molds and equipment for their maintenance become redundant, slabbing mills are no longer needed and the quality of cast billets improves substantially.
Launch of grain-oriented steel production
The cold-rolling shop (FRS-2) was put in operation on 1 June 1960. Its launch completed the construction of the electrical steel shops and made it the USSR’s first facility for production of grain oriented electrical steel based on NLMZ’s unique proprietary technology.
The cold-rolling shop occupied 12 hectares, comparable with the area of the Moscow-based Luzhniki main sports arena. It was equipped with high-capacity machines for pickling, heat treatment, cold rolling and trimming of steel sheets.
Launch of blast furnace No. 3
On 8 February 1962, blast furnace No. 3, with the volume of 2,000 cubic metres and capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per year, produced its first pig iron. Among the young builders and mechanical engineers who participated in the construction were representatives from the Urals and Siberia, Ukraine and the Far East, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, Moscow, Leningrad and other cities – overall, from 211 enterprises of the USSR, which supplied complex equipment.
Development of power transmission lines
In the 1960s, the power industry of the USSR displayed rapid growth in the construction of power grids. The overall length of overhead power transmission lines (OPTL) with a voltage of 220 kV and higher built by the Ministry of Energy and Electrification of the USSR totalled 78,200 km.
New generator at NLMZ’s cogeneration plant
To improve the capital overburden removal operations and speed up the construction of a high grade ore mine, three new modes of transportation were introduced for overburden shipping: hybrid, conveyor and hydraulic earth-moving. The cost of overburden removal operations in the mine shrank by over 100,000 rubles a year.
The first slab
Construction of the country’s largest hot-rolling carbon steel shop (later on, flat rolling shop No. 3) began in 1966. Its main aisle spanned over a kilometre, and a wide-strip type -2000 mill ran along its overall length. The construction of FRS-3 was proclaimed an All-Union shock work construction project of the Komsomol.
1 June 1966. The mine celebrated its fifth anniversary. More than 33 million cubic metres of overburden rock had been dumped over the years.
Launch of blast furnace No. 4
On 11 March 1967, 2,000 cbm blast furnace No. 4 produced its first pig iron.
In June and July 1976, the world’s first trial steelmaking procedures using fuel-enriched blasting, with up to 40% oxygen content were conducted in BF-4. The adoption of this technology for the plant’s furnaces allowed for an increase in pig iron output from 6 million to 6.5 million tonnes in 1977 and 1978.
Two million tonnes of high grade ore
March 1968. The supply of KU-800 N 1 equipment and units started. No unique mechanisms of this kind had been used in the country before.
On 5 November 1968, at 3:30 p.m., the first large-scale blast at Stoilensky mine was fired.
First computers and production practices
On 1 March 1969, the crushing and screening plant (CSP) took an industrial load of 3.8 million tonnes of high grade ore per year.
On 2 April 1969, the first train of iron ore from Stoilensky was shipped to Novotulsky Metallurgical Plant.
During 1968 and the first six months of 1969, computer technology was implemented at NLMZ. An automated control system for basic oxygen furnace production based on the Zuse 25/32 computer was developed and installed at the plant, and the first stage automated production control system was implemented using a Minsk-22 computer at FRS-2.
Shock work awards
On 8 April 1970, Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works were awarded the Lenin Anniversary Letter of Commendation of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Council of Ministers and the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions.
Launch of blast furnace No. 5
On 3 February 1973, the USSR’s biggest 3,240 cbm blast furnace No. 5 was put in operation. BF-5 was the first furnace of such volume in the Soviet Union and the last one built in blast furnace shop No. 1 of NLMZ.
The furnace had a round cast house, four tap holes and 32 hot blast tuyeres.
BF-5 was the first furnace of such volume in the Soviet Union and the last one built in blast furnace shop No. 1 of NLMZ. The launch of BF-5 enabled the plant to increase annual pig iron production to 6.2 million tonnes. The operating experience of BF-5 was later used to improve the design of large-capacity blast furnaces.
The first slab produced by BOF-2
The domestic iron and steel industry had never before seen facilities similar to BOF-2. Its annual capacity was estimated at 8 million tonnes of slabs produced using 300-tonne BOFs, curved apron casting machines and the effective technology already proven at the first shop.
Coke plant development
A large coke plant had been constructed at NLMZ by 1977. With eight shops spanning the total area of 70 hectares, NLMZ’s coke plant became one of the largest in Russia, producing more than 20 different products. Coal by-products and derivatives are used in manufacturing consumer goods and pharmaceuticals, the agriculture and energy industries as well as in road construction.
Launch of blast furnace No. 6
Blast furnace No. 6, with an annual production output of 2.2 million tonnes of pig iron, was commissioned on 7 November 1978. BF-6 was a result of the successful implementation of new technological solutions. Construction of the blast furnace was a major step on the way to automation and mechanisation of key processes.
Million tonne milestones at NLMZ
On 23 April 1979, the three millionth tonne of grain oriented steel was shipped to an instrument-making plant in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic.
On 21 May 1979, blast furnace No. 6 produced its one millionth tonne of pig iron since launch. The design capacity of BF No. 6 was reached in four months instead of the projected six.
The mill’s design production output of 6.1 million tonnes was also reached. It has not been outstripped by any mill facility in the world to date.
Carbon steel rolling shop
On 26 February 1980, the 20 millionth tonne of steel was produced at BOF-2.
On 18 April 1980, the country’s first cold-rolling carbon steel shop with an annual output capacity of 2.5 million tonnes of products and the world‘s most productive continuous rolling mill – Mill 2030 (up to 750 tonnes per hour) began operation. It was the day that the first automotive sheet was produced using the new equipment.
The 100 millionth tonne of pig iron
In 1981 NLMZ produced its 100 millionth tonne of post-war pig iron. The second stage of BOF-2 and Phase 2 of the first stage of the cold-rolling carbon steel shop were completed.
In 1981 the cold-rolling carbon steel shop started operating the country’s first and only continuous annealing machine with a design capacity of 500,000 tonnes per year.
The first hot-dip galvanising unit
In 1982 the first hot-dip galvanising unit with an annual output capacity of 500,000 tonnes of galvanised steel sheets was commissioned at the cold-rolling carbon steel shop to process and galvanise steel strips.
The experience of the construction and operation of the shop was used to build similar facilities at other steelmaking plants around the country, in particular at Cherepovets Integrated Iron & Steel Mill and Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works.
From NLMZ to NLMK
Construction of a new large-scale and integrated system of facilities, the cold-rolling non-grain oriented flats shop, began in 1983.
On 30 June 1983, taking into account the plant’s complex structure and integrated workflow, Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works was reorganised into Novolipetsk pursuant to Order No. 600 of the Ministry of Ferrous Metallurgy.
NLMK’s 50th anniversary
NLMK earned a number of awards on its anniversary. For example, 153 top performers of the plant were awarded the title of Honorary Employee of NLMK as well as commemorative tokens and valuable gifts to celebrate Steelworker’s Day and reward their long and excellent service.
A lot of top performers and winners of the socialist and anniversary competitions, who had successfully fulfilled their targets and socialist obligations, were awarded and commended: 467 employees of NLMK were given the Laureate of the Anniversary Award in Commemoration of the Plant’s 50th Anniversary title.
Reconstruction of type-2000 mill
The reconstruction of the type-2000 mill was completed in 1985. As a result, capacity increased from 5.88 million to 6.1 million tonnes per year. In October, NLMK started developing Lengipromez’s project proposals for design and construction of the Repair Shop Section (RSC), following the decision of the Ministry of Ferrous Metallurgy on the construction of a section of repair shops to produce spare parts and repair steelmaking equipment using CNC machines, robot modules, flexible manufacturing systems and computers.
Launch of the non-grain oriented flats shop
On 1 July 1986, the first stage of the NGO flats shop (flat rolling shop No. 5) was launched. The initial target for non-grain oriented steel to be shipped was outstripped by 2.3%. The NGO flats shop became the largest facility of its kind in Europe.
NLMK’s new development strategy
Starting from January 1987, NLMK moved on to self-financing and self-sufficiency. Production, wages and social development relied entirely on the income the company generated. The strategy of the plant changed, as NLMK sought to expand its output of consumer goods.
By the late 1980s, the plant supplied its products to 7,000 destinations in more than 40 countries. Automotive, shipbuilding, heavy engineering and agricultural engineering companies, pipe and tube production enterprises and the power industry became regular consumers of NLMK’s goods.
Launch of Stinol production
On 1 July 1988, NLMK launched production of complex household appliances, which later grew to become the Stinol refrigerator manufacturing plant, the largest facility of its kind in the USSR and Europe. One-, two-and three-compartment refrigerators including those equipped with no-frost systems and freezers of various sizes were manufactured there.
Development of consumer electronics manufacturing in Lipetsk
In January 1989, a shop was launched at NLMK to manufacture trailers for passenger cars, with an annual design capacity of 10,000 units. The first product, a wing panel for a ZAZ passenger car, was manufactured within a year.
A shop for the production of ’Sigran‘ synthetic granite, , was set up in 1989.
In addition, an electronic equipment shop was established at the premises of the printed circuit board site. The first goods it produced were electronic ignition modules for cars.
Focus on environmental protection and automation
Khimmotolog, a joint venture established in 1991, completely took over all the functions related to processing oil waste and cutting fluids, which allowed almost complete elimination of emergency discharge of oil products into water or contamination of soil with oil. Seven years later, Khimmotolog completed liquidation of the 40,000 tonnes of oil containment ponds, which had accumulated earlier.
At solvent recovery shop No. 1 of the coke plant, the coke oven gas final cooling cycle was converted into a closed loop system.
In March 1992, a foreign trade advertising office was set up within the External Communications Department. NLMK’s corporate style was designed in cooperation with the Association of Designers of Russia.
In June 1992, BOF-1 started rebuilding the vertical continuous slab caster into a curved caster. The same year, in conjunction with the Bardin Central Research Institute for Ferrous Metallurgy and Bulgarian company Technoimportexport, an integrated steel processing facility was commissioned at BOF-1, which made it possible to improve the quality of electrical steel. In 1992–1993, FRS-5 implemented the technology for production of NGO steel with electrically insulated lacquer coatings.
Launch of Stinol plant
On 28 January 1993, NLMK acquired a new organisational status: the plant became Novolipetsk Steel Open Type Joint Stock Company. The company was registered by Resolution No. 50 of the Head of Administration of Levoberezhny District of Lipetsk dated 28 January 1993.
The shares were distributed among the company’s employees. In the mid-1990s, the bulk of NLMK’s shares were consolidated by investors.
On 2 July 1993, Stinol, a major refrigerator and freezer plant with a design capacity of 1 million units a year, was put in warranty period operation.
The Birmingham Torch Award
In the autumn of 1995, NLMK, along with 100 other leading Russian companies, was awarded the Birmingham Torch Award in Birmingham (Alabama, USA), for successful economic survival and development in the face of adverse conditions.
Acquisition of Dolomit
NLMK acquired Dolomit, a dolomite mining and processing facility, which fully satisfies the plant’s demand for this raw material.
Dolomit is the leading metallurgical dolomite producer in Russia and the only dolomite producer in the Central Black Earth economic area. The company has developed the Dankovskoye dolomite deposit in Lipetsk Region since 1932. The company’s product range includes flux and converter dolomite, dolomite powder, and crushed stone for construction and road building. The proximity of the facility to the well-developed transport infrastructure makes it strategically attractive for customers.
Dolomit produces about 2 million tonnes of products a year. Russia is the primary dolomite market served. Steelmaking enterprises are key consumers of dolomite.
Overcoming the crisis of 1998
In the late 1990s, Russia had to face adverse economic conditions. The management of NLMK responded promptly and efficiently and made a number of important decisions:
Optimise organisational structure and management system for production and auxiliary departments.
Improve the system for purchasing raw materials and fuel and power resources and streamline the sales system and marketing organisation.
Develop and approve the programme for the plant’s reconstruction and technical upgrade.
Production upgrade at NLMK
In 2000 Novolipetsk began implementing a large-scale technical upgrade programme, which aimed to increase steel production output and improve the quality of steel products and production efficiency. The plant substantially increased investment in production development and capital repairs of major units, spending 3.19 billion rubles to achieve these goals.
Over 220 billion rubles was invested in production upgrade in and before 2012, with more than 190 projects implemented.
NLMK shipped 8 million tonnes of steel products in 2000. The plant’s commodity output grew by 8% compared with 1999. Overall, 7.5 million tonnes of rolled products was produced for an 8% growth rate, including 4.7 million tonnes of flat steel with 18.2% growth).
Launch of the continuous hot-dip galvanising line
In 2001 NLMK reached its full capacity utilisation for the first time in a decade. The amount of products shipped to the domestic market increased significantly. NLMK supplied about 2.1 million tonnes of steel to domestic customers, 50% more than the 1999 figure. NLMK’s supply enabled Russian companies, in particular automotive plants, to drastically reduce their imports. More than 70% of metal produced was exported. The revenue from sales totalled 38.54 billion rubles in 2000. The gross profit amounted to 15.3 billion rubles.
A new production line is put into operation, a unique one for Russia
The new production line is designed to manufacture a wide range of concast billets of different grades. The launch of CCM-4 allowed to decommission three outdated and low-efficient lines, decrease steel casting costs at the same time improving the quality and the range of products.
The process flow is fully automated which ensures stable and trouble-free operation, improves the working conditions and environmental performance. Before that only foreign steel mills operated such production lines with similar quality and specifications.
The new grain oriented steel production workflow
A new technological workflow for grain oriented steel production was implemented at NLMK in 2003. It enabled the plant to improve its output of 0.27–0.30 mm thickness high-quality steel and start production of 0.23 mm thick sheets.
The new technological workflow included basic oxygen steelmaking, steel casting using two new curved apron casting machines and improved secondary metallurgy methods. Subsequent hot rolling operations were performed on the wide-strip mill at flat rolling shop No. 3.
Modernisation of NLMK power system
In 2004 NLMK became the first steelmaking plant in Russia to use a unique welding machine for anisotropic electrical steel production. Instead of electrical resistance welding with disk-shaped electrodes, laser welding was used. The launch of this unit helped reduce the welding time by three and improve the output of the electrically insulated coating machine by 2,000–2,500 tonnes per year. The welding machine also ensured better connection of steel strips with fracture strength of at least 90% of base metal’s strength. The new welding unit was worth 1.3 million rubles
In 2005, Russia’s first continuous hot-dip galvanising line was launched at NLMK.
It was able to produce hot-dip galvanised steel plates up to 4 mm thick, widely used in construction. Continuous application of galvanised coating on strips on this line is 5 times more productive and reduces zinc consumption by four compared to galvanising of flat products by dipping them into molten zinc. The commissioning of the hot-dip galvanising line allowed NLMK to stop importing galvanised steel up to 4 mm thick.
In 2006 the Board of Directors of NLMK approved the key parameters for Stage 2 of the Technical Upgrade Programme for 2007–2011.
The primary objectives of Stage 2 of the Technical Upgrade Programme were:
1. Improvement of crude steel output by 40%, from 9 to 12.4 million tonnes per year.
2. Construction of new blast furnace No. 7 with an annual capacity of 3.4 million tonnes of pig iron.
3. Reconstruction and capital repairs of three out of five operating blast furnaces.
4. Reconstruction of basic oxygen furnace shops.
Laser processing of grain oriented steel
In 2008 the international credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s upgraded its corporate credit rating of NLMK from BB+, outlook stable, to BBB- level, outlook stable. The upgrade made NLMK the first Russian steel company to be granted an investment grade status.
In July 2008, a new desliming unit, was put into operation at Altai-Koks. It was equipped with an up-to-date automated control system to produce high-quality goods and handle chemical waste disposal, reducing man-hours required for cleaning tar storage facilities. Investment in the project was 57 million rubles.
In 2009 NLMK entirely stopped discharging waste water into the Voronezh River
In 2009 NLMK entirely stopped discharging waste water into the Voronezh River, as part of the Technical Upgrade Programme, reducing river water consumption by two thirds. The company was able to do this by substantially upgrading the industrial water supply system and implementing a new process flow. NLMK built a new pipeline system and launched new pump stations, also renovating the existing ones. This helped improve waste water quality, making it possible to reuse waste water rather than taking in fresh river water.
An environmental project at the BOF production
Novolipetsk Steel has completed one of the key environmental projects of Stage II of the Technical Upgrade Programme. The project’s goal was to upgrade the off-gas ducts and build an emissions collection and cleaning system in Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) Shop No.1, which accounts for about 40% of the steel produced in Lipetsk.
Launch of blast furnace No. 7
In 2011 NLMK conducted hot testing of its new blast furnace No. 7 with an annual capacity of 3.4 million tonnes of pig iron. BF-7 is the first blast furnace built in Russia in 25 years and the key project under NLMK’s Technical Upgrade Programme until 2012.
The BF-7 project was based on the best available environmental technologies, including highly efficient dust collection systems, a closed loop water cycle, and maximum use of by-products to generate power required in production. All slag from blast furnace processes was to be reprocessed into crushed stone used in construction.
Efficiency Improvement Programme
On February, 28, Lipetsk has adopted a Programme for Efficiency Improvement of sinter, coke and steel production at Novolipetsk.
NLMK Group’s new development strategy, Strategy 2017, was presented in February 2014. It includes a total investment of $1.6 billion and targets $1 billion in additional gains each year. The strategy is focused on unlocking the Company’s hidden potential by boosting operational efficiency across the entire production chain, enhancing vertical integration in key raw materials, increasing sales of high value-added (HVA) products, and pursuing environmental and process safety as well as human capital development programmes.
NLMK Group launches new green energy facility
NLMK Group has successfully completed hot testing and launched operation of a new top-pressure recovery turbine (TRT), a green energy-generating facility, at its Lipetsk production site. Top-pressure recovery turbines generate energy using excess blast furnace gas pressure. Blast furnace gas produced during the smelting of hot metal in blast furnaces at Novolipetsk is also channeled to a heat power plant and a recovery cogeneration plant for captive energy generation.
NLMK increases its galvanized steel capacity
NLMK Group has finished hot-testing its continuous hot-dip galvanizing lines - HDG-1 at the Lipetsk production site following upgrades. HDG-1 is expected to reach full capacity (up to 500,000 tonnes per year) in April 2016. The project boosted the line HDG-1 productivity by 30% to 500,000 tonnes per year; and increased Lipetsk site value added manufacturing capacity to produce HDG steel for the construction, automotive, and ‘white goods’ sectors, as well as for further use in the production of pre-painted steel, by 11% to 1.25 million tonnes.