Russian steelmaker NLMK has spent 246 million roubles (US$3.6m) on replacing two obsolete conveyors at its Stoilensky ore crushing facility. The company – one of three leading iron ore-mining companies in Russia – transports around 30Mt of bulk ore via conveyors annually. However, as production has increased, the company felt it was time to renew equipment that has worked virtually non-stop without back-up for 30 years.

According to NLMK the new conveyors have increased the crushing unit’s throughput 40% and have provided technologically stable iron ore concentrate production for the company’s Lipetsk plant.

New conveyors and other operational efficiency initiatives at Stoilensky will boost iron ore concentrate production for its current 15.2Mt/year to 17.2Mt/yr.

The iron ore concentrate will supply a 6Mt/yr pelletising plant scheduled for launch next year.

Operators on the ground at Stoilensky were given 10 days to prepare and replace the conveyors. “The Lipetsk site had enough reserves to last this long thanks to previous operational efficiency projects,” claims NLMK.

According to Sergey Napolskikh, Stoilensky’s general director, the conveyor project was a landmark initiative that has eliminated a bottleneck in the process chain. “Preparation for the replacement of the conveyors took almost 12 months,” he said, adding that iron ore raw material production increased 5% during H1 2015 to 8.54Mt. “This allowed us to accumulate enough concentrate to ensure Novolipetsk had the required raw materials during this unique operation.”