How steel is hardened

It’s commonly held that a state cannot be economically independent without its own metallurgy branch
It’s commonly held that a state cannot be economically independent without its own metallurgy branch. Fortunately, Belarus has a great example of the latter in the Belarusian Steel Works. If all the pipes it has produced over the past 30 years were placed in line, they’d circumnavigate the globe twice over.


Zhlobin’s BMZ new production line control centre

The plant is not merely a flagship of Belarusian industry but a convincing example of how gradual modernisation can help us find a way out of the most complicated situations. Recently, the President of Belarus has visited the Zhlobin enterprise, to launch a new bar-rolling mill.

The new 200m long workshop almost appears to be a quite separate plant. Touring its machinery, it feels futuristic, since the entire process is automated. It’s unique across the former USSR, as noted by the Belarusian Steel Works’ General Director, Anatoly Savenok. Reporting to Mr. Lukashenko on the company’s development and plans for the future, he admitted to facing challenges, due to changes in the global market. Who could have predicted that export prices for steel would halve in the space of five years? Sales to Russia have almost halved; fortunately, volumes to Ireland, South Korea and Columbia have been rising in compensation.

The launch of the new bar-rolling mill aims to meet the very real needs of the plant to process its increased volumes of steel production; the ‘old’ processing workshop couldn’t cope, leaving up to 500,000 tonnes semi-finished. It still sold well abroad but falling global prices made production far less profitable. Now, with the construction of the new bar-rolling mill, a wide range is possible, enjoying high added value: metal cord, fixing hardware, diverse shafts and gears, as well as car valves and pistons.

Mr. Lukashenko symbolically launched production via the central panel board, with iron ‘rolled’ at a speed of 120 metres per second: twice as fast as a Boeing airplane at take-off! Up to a million tonnes of rolled iron will be produced here annually, with around 25 percent bought by Belarusian machine building giants, and the remainder sold abroad.

After the launch ceremony, Mr. Lukashenko chatted with employees, sharing his views on the following:


On the situation on the Ukrainian border

Around 150,000 have already come to us from Ukraine. We’re doing our best to provide them with jobs. However, we’ll be seriously ‘sorting out’ everyone, to ensure that no criminals arrive, aiming to destabilise the situation in Belarus. They are coming, bringing weapons and guns, so we’re strengthening our border. It’s a major issue of Presidential responsibility: to ensure inner security and the country’s defensive capacity. We face no problems in this respect and no problems will emerge in the future.


On illegal migration

This flow will not move towards Belarus. We are not the European Union or America. We didn’t fight over there. It was they who destroyed Libya, killing Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. The latter may not have been good but he kept the situation under control in his country. They [the West] fully destabilised the Arab East, producing these current problems.


On Belarusians fighting in Ukraine

We’ll tackle those who have been fighting once they return to Belarus. I’ve warned everyone and we’ve made a decision at legislative level: if you go to join this fighting, you go to kill — irrespective of whether you are fighting on the side of Donbass or against. We’ll punish you for crimes against humanity. There are few such people — probably, around two dozen.


On patriotism

A person must love their country and be confident that it’s their home. Whichever President you have, neither he nor officials should destroy or sack the country. If we did so, the country would fail quicker than Ukraine has done.

By Victoria Kozlova

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