NLMK La Louvière, a leading producers of flat steel coils in Belgium and part of the Russian NLMK Group, has received the first major equipment for its EUR 150 million hot strip mill upgrade that will enable the company to expand the production of thinner, stronger and more environmentally friendly steel for customers in the European Union.

Early last month, two 100-tonne mill housings for the first finishing mill stand, one of three stands to be replaced by the year end, were delivered to the Belgian plant.

The mill housings have been supplied by Primetals Technologies who last year was awarded the contract to modernise the hot strip mill.

Investment in La Louvière's modernisation is part of the NLMK Group’s Strategy 2022. With the improved capability, the plant will increase its share of the niche HRC market .

The upgrade and modernisation includes the installation of a state-of-the art automation system, three new and three upgraded roll mill stands, new drives and motors as well as a new run-out table, modernised cooling and water systems, and a new down-coiler.

The project will enable the mill to expand the production of high strength thin hot rolled coil (as thin as 1.2 mm), increase the range of high-strength products beyond 1,000 MPa yield strength and provide customers with best-in-class surface and dimensional tolerances.

Phase one of the mill's transformation is scheduled for completion by the year end, and a second phase will be completed in 2021.