Outotec’s partner NLMK pioneers in sustainable steel production

This case article was published as part of Outotec's Sustainability Report 2019 

The steel industry is seeking ecologically friendly ways to produce steel while striving for optimal efficiency. This is not an easy task, considering that the global demand for scrap metals could increase substantially in the next 30 years and complex regulations are setting limitations on operating efficiently, especially in developed countries.

State-of-the-art technologies and investments in the workforce are essential for sustainable and efficient steel production. Russian steel company Novolipetsk Steel, or NLMK, has paved the way for efficient resource use in steel making and integrated sustainability as a core part of its business.

Partnering for sustainable pelletizing

In the past 20 years, NLMK has been able to double its steel production while reducing its overall emissions by 50 percent. This is a result of using the most modern technologies.

“We’re constantly looking at equipment upgrades and trying to apply the most advanced solutions,” states Dmitriy Kolomytsyn, Director for Capital Markets & Investor Relations at NLMK.

Outotec is a long-standing technology partner of NLMK. Outotec’s and NLMK’s collaboration dates back to 2011, and in 2019 the collaboration was expanded. Originally helping NLMK deliver Europe’s largest pelletizing plant in Russia, Outotec is now helping to ensure operational efficiency and safety at the plant – and the latest green pelletizing technology.

Outotec supported NLMK in delivering a large-scale pelletizing plant in Stary Oskol, Russia between 2012–2014. Outotec’s services included engineering, process technology, plant equipment supplies and services during the plant’s installation and start-up. In addition to delivering the latest technology improvements and digital solutions, the collaboration has been extended to cover services for installation and commissioning of an expansion of the plant. The expansion will increase the plant’s capacity from 6 to 8 million tonnes.

The pelletizing plant and its most recent technological improvements “represent the cleanest pelletizing technology available in the market. It also demonstrates our commitment to environmental compliance,” says Kolomytsyn.

Outotec’s solutions help improve safety and optimal performance of the pelletizing plant. In addition to advisory services and a digital solution package, Outotec’s latest solutions in green pelletizing, cooling air process and pallet car changing system will be applied to the plant. An optimum level of production in the plant is supported by solutions such as Outotec Pretium
Optimus® and Outotec Pellet Size Control® system.

Aligning steel production with sustainability goals

In addition to the latest technological innovations, NLMK focuses on social aspects and human capital. The company prioritizes employee trainings and engagement to continuously improve working conditions and safety.

Outotec’s solutions, for their part, also contribute to the pelletizing
plant’s safety. “In 2018, our injury rate was below the World Steel Association industry average,” Kolomytsyn says.

NLMK wants to further decrease the air emission intensity and make sure that it reaches the best available technology level that’s currently available in Europe,” Kolomytsyn describes NLMK’s goals, “If you look at our current air emissions, we are already providing the best available technology in Russia.”

NLMK is planning to further align its policies with the best possible sustainable practices and deliver projects that would contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Kolomytsyn reveals. Companies are adjusting their business models rapidly, seeing what they can do on a
standalone basis to fix the current business model or the current way they produce steel. The good news is that the companies in the steel industry are more or less on the same page.

“We all understand that we’re in the same boat,” Kolomytsyn points out,

"Therefore, we’re not trying to hide or create secrets from our competitor. When it comes to sustainability, we share views and existing technologies. Everyone has accepted the fact that something needs to change.”

There will be steelmakers who will be leading this process, Kolomytsyn believes, and there will be steel producers who will be following the innovations and trying to implement them.