Posted: 13.02.2024 16:41:00

They make it hot

How the businesslike character of Belarusian metallurgists is tempered

In order to maintain a strong position in the market, the management and employees of the Belarusian Steel Works (BMZ trademark) needed to show an iron character. Due to sanctions, including personal ones, BMZ — the Management Company of the BMC Holding, is prohibited not only from exporting steel products to the EU, but also from using the transit corridor through these countries. The plant accepted the challenge and began restructuring business processes, searching for new clients,
changing supply routes... Our reporter visited the metallurgists in Zhlobin.

BMZ. Electric-furnace melting workshop          Marina Severyanova 

Scale plus technology

Long before the end of the introductory tour of the BMZ, the application on my phone notified me that I had walked 10 thousand steps. No surprise, the area of the enterprise is about 257 hectares. Factory workers compare its size with the territory of the Principality of Monaco. Approximately every seventh resident of the city works at the plant — the company’s staff is more than 11 thousand people.
In one of the steelmaking shops we communicate with employees in the control room, the windows of which are barred for safety reasons — literally 30 metres away, about 70 tonnes of scrap metal are melting in a huge basket. The temperature of the electric arc in the furnace is 3,500 degrees!
Operator Yegor Govor was placed to BMZ two years ago after graduating from metallurgical college; his father also works here. Yegor says, “I came here for the first time during an internship and I liked it. On the one hand, the scale is impressive, on the other — high technology and automation of all processes. I go to the shop a couple of times per shift, and spend the rest of the time at the computer. Sure, you need to be very careful, control a number of processes, but there is practically no physical labour. Now I’m getting a higher education, I understand that at such an enterprise there is always a prospect for career growth for specialists.”

Operator of the control post for the hot-rolled pipe mill Yegor Govor       MARINA SEVERYANOVA 

We go to the smelting site, where we are met by senior foreman Oleg Sazykin. He has worked at the plant for almost a quarter of a century. The specialist has everything clear: at the beginning of the shift, he determines the scope of work for the team, provides everyone with raw materials. 
“There should be no interruptions, and we do not allow this. Our people are competent, hardworking, because we work for a common result,” the master shares his opinion.
We complete the route in the laboratory. On a universal testing machine, both the thinnest wire with a diameter of 0.14 millimetres and metal cord are tested for strength.
Head of the physical and mechanical testing laboratory Svetlana Kartseva explains how important product quality is, “The plant began producing wire for cutting crystals with a diameter of 0.14 mm in 2022. It is used to cut silicon wafers, which are one of the main components for the production of solar cells, integrated circuits, and silicon substrates for LED microchips.”

Supervisor at quality control department Marina Zhukova         Ivan JarYvanovich 

Laboratory assistant for physical and mechanical tests Valeriya Zhukova            IVAN JARYVANOVICH

Focus on innovation 

I ask the Director General of the enterprise to summarise what I have seen. From 11 to 12 o’clock Dmitry Korchik has a direct line with the factory workers. We communicate in pauses between calls, “Did the plant manage to reach the level that was set at the beginning of 2023?” 
“We have increased the volume of steel production — in 2023, the increase is more than 250 thousand tonnes compared to the previous year. The growth rate of industrial production volumes in comparable conditions is no less than 112 percent. This growth was achieved without an increase in warehouse stocks, which indicates an active sales and marketing policy and the demand for our products. The increase in revenue is about seven percent, export sales volumes will exceed one million 700 thousand tonnes of metal products, which is 15 percent higher than the 2022 level. The main indicator reflecting the efficiency of foreign economic activity, the foreign trade balance, is positive,” the Director General shares the results of his work.
In 2023, BMZ’s export geography included 16 countries, with the Russian Federation becoming the key destination for product supplies.
“This year we are not slowing down, from the very first days of January we continue to work actively. We are already secured with orders for the first half of the year — contracts have been concluded for the supply of steel cord and bead bronze wire to third countries. The objectives are as follows: to maximise the volume of supplies in the domestic and foreign markets, to meet the needs of domestic enterprises as part of the implementation of the import substitution programme, and also to significantly increase external shipments of metallurgical products. The focus is on the sale of high-margin hardware products with a high degree of processing. Logistics problems are also being solved,” the manager says.
“We are developing new routes to minimise transportation costs. In 2023, products were shipped for the first time through the port of Taganrog, and they also began to use the ports of St. Petersburg, Novorossiysk and Rostov-on-Don. The Russian Federation is our main ally and closest partner, with whom we always find a common language and promptly resolve emerging issues,” Dmitry Korchik emphasised.
BMZ is not only strengthening its position in the sale of its main range of products — specialists continue to actively develop new types of products. For example, the technology for the production of continuously cast billets (bars) from rail grades of steel has been introduced, and the production of high-tech steel wire for cutting mono- and polycrystals of silicon has been mastered. By the way, the Zhlobin enterprise is the only manufacturer of this type of wire in the CIS countries.
“At the end of 2023, the share of innovative products in the total volume of shipments amounted to 41 percent, with a target of at least 26 percent. In total, last year we mastered 128 types of new innovative products. In total, we shipped 190 types of such products — almost a million tonnes,” noted the Director General of the enterprise.
Judging by the businesslike mood and work rhythm on the factory floors, Zhlobin metallurgists are also optimistic about the economic prospects for 2024.

Ivan Jaryvanovich


By Marina Severyanova