ABB Group, the global power plant engineering company, has certified Russian steelmaker NLMK as a qualified supplier of transformer steel.

NLMK Group produces transformer steel at its VIZ-Steel plant in Yekateringburg, Russia where ABB conducted a comprehensive audit of the plant’s processes and quality management system, confirming that Viz-Steel is worthy of its status.

ABB experts visited VIZ-Steel’s cold-rolling shop and magnetic measurements lab and reviewed the procedure for testing end-user performance of transformer steel. The company also examined the steelmaker’s environment and energy departments.

NLMK and ABB agreed on the use of trial batches of new and improved grades of Russian steel in future ABB projects and testing transformer cores made from NLMK steel.

For the past 15 years, NLMK has been supplying transformer steel from its Lipetsk and Yekaterinburg plants to ABB locations throughout Europe, Asia and North America. The steel in question is used in the manufacture of sophisticated power equipment, including power and distribution transformers.

According to NLMK, it supplied 9,100 tonnes of transformer steel to ABB in 2015, up by 300% when compared with 2014 figures. Key sales markets were Spain, Canada, the USA and Egypt. In Q1 2016 ABB purchased 2,700 tonnes of steel, up 13% when compared with the same period last year.

NLMK holds a 99% share of the Russian grain-oriented steel market and 11% of the global market. In 2015 the company produced 280kt of transformer steel and exports 80% of it.