ArcelorMittal Zenica has officially inaugurated three new investment projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a combined value of more than €12.4m.

Prior to ArcelorMittal’s arrival in Zenica in 2004, the steel plant had been largely out of operation since 1992, with little or no investment made at the factory for several decades.

To mark the occasion, there was a special ceremony on 10th March attended by senior executives from the Federal, Cantonal and City of Zenica authorities.

ArcelorMittal Zenica is described as one of the most important industrial companies in the country and its top exporter.

Two of the investments are focused on further improvements of the company’s environmental performance and a third is designed to modernise the production of one of the steel plant’s key products, bringing total investments in ArcelorMittal Zenica to more than €160m, including €50m specifically aimed at environmental improvements.

ArcelorMittal Zenica is the first steel plant in the world to have industrial-scale hybrid filtration technology installed in its sinter plant. A total of €3m has been invested in the new technology, which has cut dust emissions significantly, to well below the EU limit of 20 mg/Nm3. The company plans to install a second filter, so that both sinter plant stacks’ dust emissions are filtered.

The filter technology is the culmination of a major collaboration between Danish global engineering company FLSmidth and ArcelorMIttal’s R&D team, with a team of seven researchers and six technicians working on the design and testing stages of the project. The project went from concept to industrialisation within two years.

ArcelorMittal signed a collaboration agreement with FLSmidth to build a pilot plant for the filter in Gijón, Spain, as well as to work together on adapting the technology – which was originally developed for cement plants – to work in sinter plants, which convert iron ore into sinter feed which is then used in the blast furnace.

ArcelorMittal is installing the technology in its operations in Dąbrowa Górnicza, Poland, while a third installation in Gent, Belgium, is also in progress.

Pinakin Chaubal, head of process R&D at ArcelorMittal, said he was extremely proud of the team involved in the project, which sets a new global standard for sinter plant emissions. “The installation of the hybrid filter in ArcelorMittal Zenica is an important milestone in the project which has involved our R&D team, ArcelorMittal technical specialists, and ArcelorMittal sites in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Spain,” he said.

New technology has also been introduced to achieve major reductions in smoke and gas emissions from ArcelorMittal Zenica’s coke battery. The smokeless charging car, a €4.2m investment, cuts charging times, delivering an almost smoke-free charging process and prevents CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere. John M. Henderson Machines of the UK provided the technology.

A team of JMH Machines engineers supervised the testing of the mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems on the ground level, before the 126-tonne car was lifted in one piece into position on the coke oven battery.

An investment of €5.2m has also been made, to make ArcelorMittal Zenica the first plant in ArcelorMittal Europe to produce rebar in coil.

This is one of ArcelorMittal Zenica’s most important products, which offers customers efficiencies in terms of cutting down on wastage and storage space. Annual production capacity will be raised from 300kt to 320kt, while introducing improvements in the product quality and range, ease of storage and delivery. Italy’s SMS Meer provided and installed the equipment for this production improvement.

ArcelorMittal’s CEO, Biju Nair, said that this would improve the company’s competitive edge in an important market sector. Speaking on 10 March, Mr Nair said, “The three important new investment programmes that we are announcing today represent another practical demonstration of our strong commitment to building a long term, sustainable future for steelmaking in this historic industrial city.

“To be sustainable, we must pay attention to improving our environmental footprint, and the efficient production of high quality products that meet the expectations of our customers. The projects we’re announcing today are very important further steps towards both those objectives.”

He re-affirmed the company’s strong commitment to continued improvements in its environmental performance, and emphasised the importance of the steel works to the economy of the city, the Canton and the whole region.

Fadil Novolic, Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who was unable to attend the ceremony in person, wrote a letter instead in which he said, “New investments in the corporate sector of Bosnia and Herzegovina bring prosperity to everyone, but you [ArcelorMittal Zenica] are the leader in this and you set an example for other investors in our country and the whole world”.

ArcelorMittal claims that 2,400 direct jobs and more than 10,000 indirectly are dependent on the company for employment through more than 300 local supplier companies, making ArcelorMittal one of the country’s biggest economic generators.