Preparations for the construction of what is being described as 'the world's most advanced special steel plant' have been progressing fast, according to Austrian steelmaker voestalpine.

The company 'broke ground' on its EUR350 million, 50,000 m2 Kapfenberg steel plant back in April and awarded the contract for the electric arc furnace, converter and secondary metallurgical systems (the core of the plant) to Dusseldorf-based SMS group, who will also be responsible for engineering, process technology and start-up of the fully automated melting system, which will commence production in 2021.

'Key partners' for other parts of the plant, such as the entire casting area, will be commissioned in a few months, according to voestalpine.

The new 50,000m2 plant will create around 3,000 new jobs at the plant in the long term and when completed will produce around 205kt/yr of high performance steels for the automotive, aviation, oil and gas industries.

Franz Rotter, member of the management board of voestalpine, said that awarding the contract for the supply of the main melting units 'lays the technological basis for the new special steel plant'.

"The SMS group will contribute its comprehensive know-how to this project, both in metallurgical systems and in the areas of digitalisation and automation," Rotter said.

In digitalisation terms, the Kapfenberg plant sets new worldwide standards. The entire production process is controlled from a central control station using an ultra-modern sensor and electronic system.

Böhler Edelstahl and SMS group will be setting up their own training programmes for Kapfenberg employees where all production areas will employ virtual simulation.