On 15 June, Valin ArcelorMittal Automotive Steel Co (VAMA) officially opened its new US$852 million advanced automotive steel plant in China.

The joint venture between ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel company, and Hunan Valin Iron & Steel Co, will produce high-strength automotive steels that are currently imported, for the Chinese market.

The new facility is located in the economic zone of Loudi, Hunan Province. It is built on a greenfield site and is one of the major investment projects jointly approved by China’s National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce.

The new plant took over two years to construct and employs more than 2,000 workers. It was completed on schedule and, having achieved more than six million safe work hours, is claimed to be one of the safest steel projects in China.

The new plant will initially provide more than 600 high-skilled jobs and there are plans to create more jobs as production increases.

China recorded a 16% increase in car sales to 18 million units last year, and is expected to account for 35% per cent of worldwide automotive growth between now and 2020.

VAMA's production output will meet rapid growth in demand for advanced automotive steels in China. The annual production capacity will be 1.5Mt, including 800kt of cold rolled coil, 200kt of aluminium-coated coils and 500kt of hot-dip galvanised coil. VAMA covers a large range of automotive steel products, including those for visible structural parts, chassis and wheels.

According to ArcelorMittal, VAMA aims to supply international carmakers and Tier 1 suppliers as well as promote high-end solutions to domestic car manufacturers and their supplier networks. These include ArcelorMittal’s major customers in China, such as Volkswagen, GM, Ford, PSA, Daimler-Benz, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Renault, Fiat and Nissan, as well as leading domestic manufacturers such as Geely, Chery, Dongfeng, Guangzhou Auto, Shanghai Auto and Changan.

At the opening ceremony, Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, said the completion of the major project with six million safe work hours, on schedule and within budget was a “remarkable achievement which sets a new standard in our industry.”

Cao Huiquan, chairman and CEO of Hunan Valin Steel said that the VAMA project was an important milestone for Hunan Valin to transform from a regional niche producer to a full service provider. "The success of VAMA relies on the highest efficiency from Valin LYS, to VAMA, to downstream steel service centres, to automotive end-users. Following the example of a small number of Sino-foreign automotive steel joint ventures in China, both Valin and ArcelorMittal are inspired to build a profitable and sustainable VAMA that can become the pride of Hunan Province and the Chinese steel industry," he said.