Metinvest believes direct reduced iron supply is a new opportunity for Ukraine’s steel sector, given the development of a green steel market in Europe, says the company’s chief executive, Yuriy Ryzhenkov.
“The fact that Metinvest is able to produce DRI products and can increase its volume opens up new European markets for us,” he tells dsnews.ua within the framework of the Top 10 Wartime CEO project. “We are now looking for customers in Sweden, Germany and Austria, where we have not supplied iron ore products before.”
Metinvest firmly believes in the eventual liberation of Mariupol from Russian occupation and intends to restore its presence there by building carbon-neutral steelmaking plants, Kallanish notes.
According to the company, with the beginning of the Russian invasion, the Metinvest Group completely transformed its operating business model, rebuilt logistics and stabilised production volumes, which made it possible to service debt obligations. “The Black Sea ports, through which products were exported, were blocked by the Russians and the company has built new logistics – now most of the transport to Europe is carried out by rail, as well as through the ports of Romania and Poland,” Ryzhenkov adds.
At the beginning of the invasion, the group’s overseas enterprises depended on raw materials from the Mariupol plants, mainly Azovstal. After reviewing the operating model, the company’s rolling mills in Italy and the UK are now operating autonomously, using raw materials from local producers, while the Bulgarian subsidiary is receiving semi-finished product from the Kametstal steel plant, the ceo says.
“In addition, alternative buyers have been found for the products of [Metinvest] coal mines in the US, which previously supplied coal to Ukrainian enterprises. These steps made it possible to significantly increase the capacity utilisation of foreign assets,” he comments.
To mitigate power outages, Metinvest imported electricity from the EU in February, which allowed its plants to go through a difficult period for the domestic energy sector. “As a backup option, the possibility of installing renewable energy sources is being studied,” the ceo says.
Despite the constant threat of Russian shelling, the Ukrainian enterprises of the group continue to work at different levels of utilisation, Ryzhenkov concludes.