Swedish steelmaker SSAB plans to invest more than SEK 500 million (US$55 million) in its Nordic operations.

The plan is to support the company’s automotive growth strategy, increase production stability and reduce energy consumption.

Investments are planned for operations at the Hämeenlinna and Luleå sites and projects get underway towards the end of the year.

SSAB will invest SEK 370 million (US$41 million) on modernising the first section of the pickling line at its Hämmeenlinna Works in Finland.

According to the company, the investment will support the steelmaker’s automotive growth strategy and secure stable and long-term production of coated strip products.

All steel strip at Hämeenlinna is pickled by passing it through hydrochloric acid baths before cold rolling and subsequent metal coating. The metal-coated strip products are sold directly to automotive and construction customers.

Olavi Hutala, head of SSAB Europe, commented, “Automotive is an important segment for us and one where we see clear potential for growth. The investments in Hämeenlinna will now support that strategy further.”

In Luleå, Sweden, an investment of SEK 156 million (US$17 million) will be made in a new blower for hot metal production. The blower can be viewed as the engine of the blast furnace and the installation of a new one will reduce energy consumption and increase production stability.

According to SSAB, the investments are part an already communicated capital expenditure programme and will start towards the end of 2016.