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Metalloinvest’s R&D activities consolidate and develop the research and production potential of its enterprises.

Structure and content of R&D Plans, Feasibility Studies and Production-Related Science and Technology Services in 2016

Topic 1
Strategic development
Topic 2
Environment and occupational safety
Topic 3
Improvements in production efficiency
Research aimed at defining Metalloinvest’s strategic development optionsResearch aimed at improving environmental and occupational safety (including in line with statutory requirements)Research aimed at boosting performance and improve production processes at existing sites
Key focus areas and development plans
  • Metalloinvest carried on with its large-scale laboratory tests launched in 2015 to develop a combined technology ensuring comprehensive processing of mineral raw materials at Mikhailovsky GOK;
  • In 2016, the Company continued its research to develop production technologies for new steel grades that meet increasing consumer requirements and exceed the market’s expectations;
  • Metalloinvest continued its research to adjust the production parameters for various iron ore products (concentrates, fluxed and non-fluxed pellets, HBI / DRI) and expand its sales geography.
  • The Company implemented a set of initiatives to ensure mining safety (monitoring of pit walls and waste dumps, in-depth geomechanical monitoring, hydrodynamic monitoring of rock dumps, etc.)
  • The Company conducted the research required by government authorities;
  • R&D plans include research in 15 environmental and 6 health and safety areas involving external research centres.
  • The Company improved the pellet production process by boosting the energy efficiency of pellet plants at Lebedinsky GOK and Mikhailovsky GOK;
  • Metalloinvest conducted research and drafted recommendations to adjust the production parameters for metal products and eliminate defects;
  • The Company developed and implemented innovative solutions to increase the durability of quick wearing parts in critical machinery and equipment;
  • Metalloinvest plans to continue the research started in 2016 to develop algorithms that optimise the management of metallised product manufacturing, with the aim of reducing energy consumption.

Key achievements in R&D and product range expansion

Mikhailovsky GOK

The Company continued the full-scale laboratory tests launched in 2015 to develop efficient technology that can ensure the comprehensive processing of mineral raw materials from the Mikhailovsky deposit with a complex mineral composition, and re-extraction of the target mineral from hard-to-process ore.

The Company is actively expanding its iron ore pellet range:

  • pilot testing of dolomite-containing high basic pellet production;
  • commercial testing of the technology to produce high-quality flotation concentrate from unoxidised ferruginous quartzites;
  • testing of the technology to produce high-quality pellets for further metallisation;
  • production and shipment of a batch of high-quality flotation pellets;
  • testing of the technology to produce fluxed pellets from flotation concentrate;
  • production and shipment of a batch of pellets from flotation concentrate.

Lebedinsky GOK

Key activities and results:

  • improving the beneficiation and pelletisation technology to obtain a new type of product – fluxed (high basic) iron ore pellets;
  • studying the feasibility of producing iron ore concentrate with iron content of at least 70.0% and SiO2 content not more than 2.2% at Pelletisation Units #1 and 3 using semi-autogenous grinding technology;
  • improving direct reduction technology and obtaining high-carbon HBI briquettes;
  • improving pelletisation technology at the pellet plant, using polymer-based bonding agents to improve the quality of fluxed pellets for HBI.

Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant (OEMK)

  • Conducting research to develop algorithms that streamline the production process for metallised products;
  • expanding the product line by adding additional sections and sizes, developing new steel grades, and improving heat treatment parameters for rolled products;
  • conducting research to improve the steel blowing process and use equipment parts and assemblies more efficiently.

In 2016, OEMK developed 17 new steel grades for Russian, German, Turkish, Polish, and Italian consumers.

It also developed three new products – 300 x 400 mm continuous casting billets, 130 x 140 mm hot-rolled square billets, and 8.0 to 8.9 metre long steel products.

Ural Steel

Ural Steel’s R&D efforts are focused on the ongoing development and implementation of improved heat treatment methods for rolled products, and other high-potential areas, engaging both external research centres and in-house experts.

Its consistent and successful efforts to expand the steel product range received an accolade at Metal-Expo’2016, where the enterprise won an award in the Development of a New High-Quality Metal Products category for its corrosion-resistant steel grade. The Company has conducted research, which proved that it is possible to produce steel that is increasingly compliant with the strictest requirements for strength at low temperatures and zero class uniformity (complete absence of internal defects).

Ural Steel continues to develop new steel grades to cater to the needs of its customers. Three new grades of steel were developed in 2016. Having been commissioned by bridge construction companies, Ural Steel shipped industrial-scale batches of 14KhGNDTs (14-Cr-Mn- Ni-Cu-Zr) atmospheric corrosion-resistant low-alloy steel to manufacture motorway and railway bridge superstructures. In 2016, shipments amounted to 2,600 tonnes.

In 2016, as part of cooperation with Zagorsk Pipe Plant, which is a new customer, the Company supplied 500 tonnes of 25 mm thick, strength grade X70 strips to manufacture pipes for the Yamal LNG project, and over 3,000 tonnes of 8–19 mm thick 09GSF corrosion-resistant steel strips.

The machine shop’s casting unit launchedproduction of cast iron annular weights ordered by Gazprom StroyTEK Salavat to be used for ballast gas pipelines at underwater crossings in watered and marshy areas.

The electric arc furnace shop and the casting unit started manufacturing slag pots for the electric arc and blast furnaces.

Collaboration with research and engineering centres

Metalloinvest’s active cooperation with research and engineering centres enables the Company’s enterprises to implement advanced technologies.

In 2016, the Company collaborated with a number of Russian R&D institutions and universities, including: NPVP TOREX (Yekaterinburg, part of Metalloinvest), the Stary Oskol branch of the National University of Science and Technology MISiS; the MIPT Centre for Engineering and Technology of Hard-to-Recover Reserves (Moscow); the I.P. Bardin Central Research Institute for Ferrous Metallurgy (Moscow); VIOGEM (Belgorod); the Novotroitsk branch of the National University of Science and Technology MISiS; the City Institution for Designing Metallurgical Plants (Moscow, part of Metalloinvest); the Mosty Research Centre (Moscow); VUKHIn (Yekaterinburg); KORAD (Moscow); Engineering Dobersek GmbH (Germany).

During 2016, 14 research projects commissioned by Metalloinvest were completed, with another 18 nearing completion.

Collaboration with NPVP TOREX

As part of their joint efforts, NPVP TOREX, Metalloinvest’s R&D centre, and Mikhailovsky GOK’s engineering and technical unit developed and carried out all engineering activities relating to Pellet Plant #3, including pulp thickening and filtration, pelletisation, feeding raw pellets to the pellet plant, and rolling out innovative heat treatment technology for iron ore pellets.

Cooperation with MISiS

MISiS branches operate in Stary Oskol (Ugarov Stary Oskol Technological Institute, or STI) and in Novotroitsk, working in close cooperation with OEMK and Ural Steel. As part of this collaborative work, the branches carry out research projects in the areas that are relevant to the plant. Every year, the branches publish research articles co-authored by OEMK and Ural Steel experts, and students present their reports at Metalloinvest’s scientific and technical conferences.

R&D projects completed for Ural Steel include:

  • developing a technological process control method at the electric arc furnace and Rolling Mill #1 based on statistical data, to improve rolled steel quality;
  • a number of projects related to laboratory tests to help with the selection process for a staflux production method;
  • studying the effectiveness of various methods of heating sintering ore mixture.

STI is implementing nine projects at OEMK to address specific production matters.

In 2016, Metalloinvest allocated RUB 10 million to set up electrical engineering workshops at Stary Oskol Polytechnic College, part of STI. These are designed to train electricians, power engineers and members of other blue-collar professions. Another major joint project between the Institute and Metalloinvest is a steelmaking laboratory at OEMK, which will be testing production technologies for new steel grades, and enabling students on the master’s degree programme to take part in practical training and research activities.

Currently, STI is working to create a technology cluster where researchers will develop new technologies and solutions, primarily for Metalloinvest’s enterprises.

Intellectual Property

As at 31 December 2016, the Company held 140 Russian patents, including 136 patents for inventions and four patents for utility models, as well as nine registered trademarks.

Many patents protect the Company’s new steel grades and their respective production technologies, new types of metal products and their manufacturing technologies, as well as quality improvement methods. The Company has a significant industrial property (inventions) portfolio, filed in order to maintain the confidentiality of its expertise.

In 2016, the Company prepared materials to file applications for patent rights to the following two inventions:

  • the 'ladle treatment method' to reduce the consumption of fluorspar and refractories and increase the working life of ladle linings;
  • a utility model application for an adapter and crown assembly. This will be used to construct adapters and crowns with a reliable tight mounting on the excavator bucket to reduce the wear and tear of excavator components.