Stoilensky, one of the largest iron ore producers in Russia, and one of the most effective globally in terms of production costs and profitability, according to parent company NLMK Group, has begun the installation of equipment at its new pelletising plant in Russia’s Belgorod region.

The plant is located at Stary Oskol, which is 300km from NLMK’s Lipetsk production site.

The new pelletising plant is part of NLMK Groups Strategy 2017 and will enable the steelmaker to produce pellets for its Lipetsk blast furnace operations in the most cost-effective way, claims the company.

Sergei Napolskikh, Stoilensky’s general director, said that the new plant was one of the largest and most modern industrial projects currently under construction in Russia. “It was designed using the best available technologies and equipment,” he said, adding that NLMK had ‘set a good pace’ last year and was going full steam ahead to launch the plant next year (2016) to celebrate Stoilensky’s 55th anniversary.

An NLMK spokesman said that most of the iron ore concentrate and sinter ore produced by Stoilensky is used by the Lipetsk production site. Excess capacity is sold to third parties. However, the NLMK Group has no pelletising plant and has to buy around 6Mt/yr of pellets from third parties.

When the new plant comes on stream next year, the NLMK Group will have its own pellets at much cheaper production cost than the current set-up, the spokesman said.

Roller screens for sorting bulk materials and 900m3 bunkers as well as 244 pellet cars are currently being installed on-site. The pellet cars are being installed in the thermal processing section where pellets are dried and baked. Mixer units and conveyors have already been assembled.

Deliveries of process equipment will be completed by the end of 2015 and wall erection, roofing and painting by January 2016.