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Russia says local Alcoa unit abused monopoly

Category : Economie

Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (Credit Photo @ Ria Novesti)

  • Case concerns products used by Russia‘s military
  • Alcoa says cooperating with investigation

MOSCOW, March 3 (Reuters) – Russia’s FAS anti-monopoly service said on Thursday that the local unit of U.S. aluminium giant Alcoa (AA.N) has abused its dominant position in certain types of products used by the Russian military. The regulator noted that Alcoa raised prices on aluminium sheet produced at one plant by 119 percent in 2009, well above the level for comparable products. Alcoa’s Russian unit said it would cooperate with the investigation. “We can confirm that the company has fully cooperated with the anti-monopoly service in the consideration of this case, and will continue to do so,” the unit said in a statement. The investigation concerns sheets from aluminium alloy AMg6M, some formats of which are only produced by Alcoa’s Russian unit. The sheets are used by the military in aviation and rocket building as well as for other arms needs, FAS said. Alcoa’s unit “abused its dominant position as there is an absence of economic, technological or other reasons for the doubling of prices for sheets from aluminium alloy AMg6M,” FAS said. “Such abuse leads to a significant increase of military technology and, as a result, an increase in the spending from the federal budget.” Alcoa acquired its two Russian aluminium plants in 2005 and it has invested more than $750 million in the facilities since then. The Samara plant, commissioned in 1960, is Russia’s largest producer of fabricated aluminium, supplying output to a range of industries including aerospace, shipbuilding and oil and gas. The Belaya Kalitva plant, also known as Alcoa Metallurg Rus, is southern Russia’s leading producer of fabricated aluminium, supplying a similar range of industries as the Samara plant. (Reporting by Alfred Kueppers; Editing by Will Waterman)

Source: Reuters

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Baosteel Provides Total Solution for Customers

Category : Entreprises

2011-3-1 -In 2009, Baosteel Co.,Ltd. adhered to providing total solutions for customers and accelerating new product development with customer-oriented attitude and by focusing on key industries. During the year, both the grade number of newly converted products and the sales rate reached annual targets.  Last year, Baosteel provided total solution for customers in automobile, shipbuilding, marine platform, clean power generation, aerospace, construction machinery, transportation, light industry, home appliance and petrochemical industries. With automobile industry as example, Baosteel provided special vehicle lightweight package solution and in some car factories, Baosteel lightweight high-strength steel vehicle was tested and applied. Among them, Shandong Peng Xiang prototype vehicle weight was reduced by about 15%, Shanghai ShenBao prototype vehicle weight was reduced by approximately 30%. Apart from that, in accordance with the petrochemical industry’s needs, Baosteel organized and planed especially for “Yanshan petrochemical equipment material overall solution”. In addition, Baosteel carried out hot stamping technology research and formed a package of hot stamping technology solutions, with 5 sets of hot stamping die independent design. Last year, Baosteel has also strengthened new product development and certification. Among them, the silicon steel research had significant progress and passed a number of motor manufacturers’ authentications. New product certification and market expansion of automotive exhaust system stainless steel’s six steel types was in smooth progress. High corrosion resistant and weather resistant railway steel and its supporting welding material passed Ministry of Railway’s certification and was well received by customers. To meet the needs of the national energy strategy, Baosteel strengthened the development of high-grade pipeline steel such as petrochemical steel. Among them, large diameter pipe varieties X65, X70, X80  achieved mass supply, nickel-based alloy oil well pipes achieved whole process manufacture with mass supply capacity. High anti-torsion and anti-collapse oil tubing and casing with the highest-grade steel in China was successfully applied in Zhongyuan Oilfield with its leading anti-torsion and anti-collapse qualities in China.

Source : Basoteel

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New Alloy with rare earth Promises Better Heat To Energy (US)

Category : Recherche & Développement

(Credit Photo @ Purdue University)

March 3rd, 2011- The United States Department of Energy (DOE) announced earlier this month that they have developed an alloy that achieved a 25% improvement of a substance’s ability to convert heat to electric energy. By adding rare earth elements to thermoelectric material, scientists have found a way to drastically improve the efficiency of certain metals. The research and implementation of the finding came from the Ames Laboratory in Iowa, where scientists are claiming their results have not been found anywhere else on Earth.Publishing their findings in the Advanced Functional Materials journal, the team found that by adding less than one percent of cerium or ytterbium to tellurium, antimony, germanium, or silver those elements improved thermoelectric properties by a staggering amount. The utilization of this knowledge is yet to be seen, however, it gives researchers in the private and public sector a reason to revisit ideas previously considered unsustainable. Thermoelectric generator research, Purdue University.Thermoelectric materials like silver have a very low efficiency when it comes to converting heat into electricity, and even after NASA found ways to harness that potential for long-term space probes, their applications for mass production appeared to be small. But if scientists at the DOE and elsewhere can continue to improve the ability advancements in several practical areas, like using the heat from an exhaust to partially power a car, can be improved.One potential challenge here is that  all of the rare earth substances are becoming increasingly precious commodities as they are used in advanced products from superconductors to nuclear weapons. The race to mine for such elements has caused some speculation about the future of technology, both green and otherwise.

Source :  Rare Techling – Aaron Colter

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Hafnium: Small Supply, Big Applications (US)

Category : Market

Sources: Lipmann Walton & Co Ltd and Avon Metals Ltd

With an average crustal abundance of 3 ppm (parts per million), hafnium — a shiny, silver-gray metal often used in alloys and nuclear science — certainly isn’t rare. The metal is more abundant in the Earth’s crust than gold, silver, the PGMs, a number of the rare earths and the likes of germanium, tantalum and molybdenum. But as a metal, hafnium is only produced in quite small quantities, currently probably not much more than 70 tonnes a year. There are two main reasons for this. First, hafnium is only ever produced as a byproduct of refining zirconium for use in nuclear-related applications, especially in nuclear power plants. Second, it is extremely difficult to separate the metal from zirconium, the element with which it is most often found. Indeed, because of this, only two significant producers of the metal exist worldwide at present: ATI Wah Chang [part of Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) in Oregon in the U.S.; and CEZUS in Jarrie, France, part of France’s AREVA group (ARVCF.PK) and the world’s largest builder of nuclear power stations].

A Bit of History

Given the difficulties in recovering the metal, it may come as no surprise that hafnium was one of the last elements to be discovered. Although scientists had already reserved a place for it on the periodic table, element 72 (hafnium) had yet to be identified as recently as 1920. In 1923, hafnium was identified (using X-ray analysis) as being distinct from zirconium, and recognized as an element in its own right by the Dutch physicist Dirk Coster and Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian chemist György Hevesy, working in Copenhagen, Denmark. The name hafnium comes from Hafnia, the Latin name for Copenhagen.

Whence Hafnium?

In its metallic state, hafnium is a shiny, ductile metal about twice as dense as zirconium. However, hafnium is never found as a pure metal, and it must undergo a long and complex refining process to end up as such. In nature, hafnium occurs with zirconium at a ratio of around 1:50, appearing in a number of zirconium-bearing ores and minerals, such as zircon and baddeleyite. (There are at least two other hafnium-bearing ores — alvite and hafnon — but they are not common.) The primary source of hafnium is the zircon that results from the processing of zirconium-bearing ilmenite, or heavy mineral sands. This is further separated into rutile (consisting mainly of titanium dioxide, TiO2) and zircon (ZrSiO4) sand. (Not all ilmenites, however, contain zirconium and, thus, hafnium.) .The world’s major producers of zircon sand are Australia, South Africa and China, while Brazil, Ukraine and Russia all possess and produce commercially viable resources of baddeleyite:  The production of hafnium metal is predicated upon the production of zirconium metal sponge from zircon sand, generally for the nuclear industry. For zirconium to be effective in nuclear fuel rods, it needs to be as transparent and impermeable to neutrons as possible. This, in turn, requires that the rods contain as little hafnium as possible, since hafnium’s thermal neutron absorption cross section is some 600 times that of zirconium.While their neutron absorption properties of hafnium and zirconium are almost exactly opposite, in nearly all other aspects except density, the two metals’ chemistries are nearly identical. This is why they are so difficult to separate.In the past, hafnium metal was produced via a process developed by van Arkel and de Boer, in which the vapor of the tetraiodide was passed over a heated tungsten filament. These days, nearly all hafnium metal is made via the Kroll process, by reducing the tetrachloride either with magnesium or with sodium. The metal can then be purified further either using the van Arkel/de Boer iodine process or electron beam melting. The first method is currently used by ATI Wah Chang to produce its ultralow zirconium hafnium crystal bar.

Uses Of Hafnium

Currently, hafnium has three important uses: superalloys (in both aerospace and nonaerospace), refractory metal alloys and nuclear applications.

Alloys

In high-temperature alloys and polycrystalline nickel-based superalloys, hafnium’s high melting point — 2,233°C (4,051°F) — helps strengthen grain boundaries, thus considerably improving both high-temperature creep and tensile strength. In addition, with its high affinity for carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, the metal also provides strengthening through second-phase particle dispersion. One of the most common uses of hafnium is as one of the alloys in the superalloys used in the turbine blades and vanes found in the “hot end” of jet engines, i.e., in environments with very high temperatures and pressure and high stress. Such superalloys can contain 1-2 percent hafnium. For example, MAR-M 247 — a polycrystalline nickel-based alloy developed by Martin-Marietta Corp. and used by Siemens in land-based turbines that operated at temperatures up to 1,038˚C — contains 1.5 percent hafnium.  Hafnium can also to be found in a number of other alloys, such as tantalum-based T111 (Ta-8%W-2%Hf); tantalum/tungsten-based T222 (Ta-10%W-2.5%Hf-0.01%C) and molybdenum-based MHC, or molybdenum-hafnium-carbide, which breaks into 1.2%Hf-0.1%C (the rest moly). In addition, it can be found in a number of niobium-based alloys: C-103 (10% Hf-1%Ti-1%Zr); C-129Y (10%W-10%Hf-0.7%Y) and WC-3015 (30%Hf-15%W-1.5%Zr). Among other applications, niobium-based alloys containing hafnium have been used as coatings for cutting tools, while C-103 and hafnium-tantalum-carbide have been used in the fabrication of rocket engine thruster nozzles. In both alloys containing tantalum and molybdenum, as well as in binary compounds, hafnium is also an excellent refractory material. With a melting point of over 3,890°C, hafnium carbide (HfC) makes one of the most refractory binary materials around. And with a melting point of some 3,310°C, hafnium nitride is the most refractory of all known metal nitrides. And there could be a number of as-yet-undiscovered uses for hafnium both in alloys and in catalysts. Several years ago, an article appeared in Chemical & Engineering News: “Happening Hafnium: Once obscure transition metal is now garnering attention as a potential superstar catalyst.”

Nuclear

We have hafnium metal only as a result of the decision to use zirconium in nuclear applications. As mentioned previously, purified zirconium must contain as little hafnium as possible to be of any use in uranium-based fuel rods, so the hafnium must be entirely removed. Thus, it’s perhaps appropriate that, apart from its use in alloys, one of hafnium’s other major applications is in nuclear contexts. While the chemistry of hafnium and zirconium may be quite similar, their properties in a nuclear environment could not be more dissimilar. Zirconium is virtually transparent to neutrons, while hafnium is extremely absorbent. Thus, while the fuel rods themselves are often made out of zirconium, control rods (which mop up the neutrons flying around and, therefore, slow nuclear fission in the reactor) are often made of hafnium. One of their first uses in this context was in the pressurized light water reactors used to power such naval vessels as submarines. It is, though, interesting to note that the effects of contamination of one metal by the other appear not to be symmetric; hafnium control rods can still function effectively if they contain up to 4.5 percent zirconium, but certainly not vice versa for fuel rods. In addition to its neutron absorbency, hafnium also boasts two further valuable properties in the nuclear context: strength and resistance to corrosion.

Other applications of hafnium are quite varied:

  • Plasma welding and arc cutting: Because of its ability to shed electrons into air and hence establish an electric arc, hafnium is used as an insert in plasma torch welding tips instead of tungsten, and as a cathode in plasma arc cutting.
  • Microprocessors: Chip-makers use hafnium chloride (HfCl4) and hafnium oxide (HfO2) in microprocessors, not least of which because its temperature resistance makes it a good replacement for silicon. For example, Intel’s 45nm high-k chip is hafnium-based, following the company’s discovery that “introducing hafnium into silicon chips helps reduce electrical leakage enabling smaller, more energy-efficient and performance-packed processors.” Other electronics companies are now looking at the possibility of using hafnium oxide to make ReRAM.
  • CVD/PVD coating: Hafnium is often used as a thin film coating to provide hardness and protection (for example, in optical applications), via either chemical vapor deposition (CVD) or physical vapor deposition (PVD).
  • Lasers: Hafnium oxide is also used in blue lasers in DVD readers.

Demand For Hafnium

Figures for both demand and supply of hafnium are extremely difficult to find, not least because of both the exiguous number of producers and the relatively small number of consumers. It is, therefore, possible only really to give either “typical” figures or best “estimates.” On the demand side, typical annual demand for the metal remains around 77 tonnes. While the demand for hafnium from the electronics industry (for chips) appears to be increasing slightly, there is strong demand growth for the metal both in air plasma applications and superalloys. (In the aerospace industry, in general, engine manufacturers are always seeking materials that will enable their engines to run at higher temperatures and, hence, consume fuel more efficiently.) It is, however, from the nuclear industry that the greatest growth in demand may arise. According to the World Nuclear Association, quoting figures from the Nuclear Engineering International Handbook 2010, there are currently some 439 nuclear power plants in commercial operation alone, with 60 under construction in 15 different countries. More than 155 further power reactors are planned worldwide, with over 320 more proposed. What’s more, in order to increase capacity, many reactors already in operation are either in the process of or will soon be upgraded. And this does not take into account the routine maintenance/replacement work that is always being undertaken.

That said, however, control rods in, say, pressurized water reactors are not exclusively made using hafnium. Because of both its limited availability and relatively high price, a number of other materials can be and are substituted; for example, boron or silver-indium-cadmium alloys, which usually contain 80 percent Ag, 15 percent In, and 5 percent Cd.

Supply Of Hafnium

Estimates are that the two main hafnium producers, ATI Wah Chang and CEZUS, produce around 40 tonnes and 30 tonnes of the metal annually, respectively (of which, 20 tonnes and 10 tonnes, respectively, is hafnium crystal bar, which has both ultralow gas and zirconium contents). It may be less, however. India produces the metal but does not export it. China, too, produces hafnium, but not of any useful purity: maybe around two tonnes a year. While both the technology and plants currently exist to remove hafnium from zirconium, they do not yet exist to refine hafnium to any significant level of purity; for example, 0.2-0.5 percent (or ultra/extra low) zirconium content.

In the past, both Russia and Ukraine produced hafnium under the Soviet system. In Russia, JSC “Chepetsky Mechanical Plant,” Glasov still lists hafnium as one of its products. And in Ukraine, the Volnogorsk State Mining-Metallurgical Integrated Works in the Dnepropetrovsk region indicates that it, too, produces hafnium. Estimates are that only some 2 tonnes of hafnium currently come out of Russia and/or Ukraine currently; most of what originates from Ukraine most probably comes from stockpiled past production rather than any current production. Looking ahead, Russia certainly has the potential to produce anywhere between 3 and 10 tonnes of hafnium a year, and Ukraine perhaps even 5 tonnes. And, with its nuclear energy ambitions, China will certainly be looking at producing high-purity hafnium sooner rather than later. Whether it will export any excess (should there be any), however, remains imponderable.What is being produced “under the radar,” however, is anybody’s guess.

Hafnium Prices

The price of hafnium is interesting on two counts. First, historically, the price of the metal has remained very steady over quite long periods — from 1970 to 2000 there was extraordinarily little volatility in it price. Second, it appears to be so cheap!

Currently, hafnium with 0.2-0.5 percent zirconium content sells for around $1,200-1,300 per kilogram. On occasion, hafnium with an even lower zirconium content (<0.1 percent) is produced and sold at an even higher premium. The metal with 0.5-1.0 percent zirconium content sells for $800-900 per kilo, while that with 1-3 percent zirconium content sells for $500-700 per kilo. However, with only around 70 tonnes of the metal being produced each year, compared to, say, only about 50 tonnes of rhenium produced each year, one wonders: Why does hafnium fetch so much less than rhenium, which currently sells for $4,000-5,000 per kilo?

Opportunities In Hafnium

Unfortunately, because of both its strategic nature in the nuclear arena and the difficulties involved in its production, there are no pure plays in hafnium. Hafnium is either produced by state-owned concerns or as just one line of business for the two big groups producing the metal commercially: ATI Wah Chang and CEZUS. Of course, “pure play” in this context will never be possible insofar as hafnium production having always been associated with zirconium production. However, this is not to say that, looking ahead, there may not be companies in either China or Russia that offer pure plays in both. Whether or not they are permitted to be publicly owned, though, is a different matter. And for any of you who may be wondering if you can go out, buy a bar of hafnium crystal and store it in your cellar as an investment, the answer is pretty much an assured: “No!” While the metal itself is, in most (but not all) forms, not hazardous, under the “Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” hafnium is considered a “dual use” metal. So, any chances of your buying it, as an investor, without the correct import/export licenses and end-user statements and squirreling it away are probably zippo. But don’t think people haven’t tried smuggling it: Ukrainian Customs Confiscate Nuclear Material from Two Germans and Bulgaria Prevents Smuggling of Nuclear Metal. In this last instance, four men tried to get 3.4 kg of the metal across the border from Bulgaria to Romania undetected. Of course, the question remains as to why they were stopped in the first place …

Afterword

For those who might enjoy reading about some of the more “interesting” possible uses of hafnium, discussions around its use as an energy source or weapon of mass destruction are sure to amuse – if only for some of the surprising claims that have, in the past, been made of the metal.

Source : Seeking Alpha

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ThyssenKrupp intends to sell Metal Forming to Gestamp (US)

Category : Strategy

ThyssenKrupp has announced that it has decided to negotiate exclusively with Spanish metal components and structural parts supplier Gestamp Automoción S.L. on the sale of the German company’s Metal Forming group.The executive board of ThyssenKrupp has confirmed its intent to sell the Metal Forming group to Gestamp and to approve entering into a corresponding share purchase agreement with Gestamp. As the next step, employee information and consultation processes will be conducted.The Metal Forming group is viewed as being no longer part of the core business of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe. For this reason negotiations on the disposal were conducted with some potential buyers last year.ThyssenKrupp says an outstanding partner was identified in Gestamp Automoción, acting in a consortium with a financial investor.ThyssenKrupp Metal Forming has production plants for chassis and body components in Germany, France, the UK, Spain, Poland, Turkey and China. The group employs around 5,700 people and in the fiscal year ended 30 September 2010 generated revenue of almost €1.1bn (US$1.52bn), also achieving an earnings turnaround.Gestamp currently has around 18,000 employees, is active at 70 locations in 18 countries and generated revenue of around €3bn in 2010.

Source : Automotive World

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Metallurgist Siegfried S. Hecker Visits North Korea (US)

Category : Sécurité

Siegfried S. Hecker viewed a North Korean uranium facility. (Credit Photo @ Stephen Jaffe/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images)

Metallurgist Siegfried S. Hecker is probably the leading US expert on the chemical and physical capabilities of plutonium. He is a former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory (1986–97) and now codirector of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. Hecker’s expertise has been widely sought both within and outside the US government.  Last October, Hecker was privately invited by the North Korean government to view a new uranium enrichment plant. Shortly after his trip, Physics Today‘s Paul Guinnessy asked Hecker about his findings, which he published in a recent report.

PT: Why were you invited to visit these facilities?

HECKER: It was the groundwork we have laid over the last seven years that allowed us to come back this time. So the real story is why was I there the first time, which was back in January 2004. My colleague, John Lewis from Stanford University, had been having an ongoing track II dialog with the North Koreans since 1986. And in 2003 the situation was indeed very grim, in that North Korea had had some altercations with the US in 2002, and had walked away from the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT) and said they were reprocessing plutonium. They told John that they were going to take him to the Yongbyon nuclear facility. John called me up—I was still at Los Alamos—and said, “Look, I would like to have a nuclear guy along,” so I went along. On this trip they actually ended up showing me their plutonium—not only showing me, but actually allowing me to hold it in a glass jar, in order for me to try to determine whether it truly was plutonium or not. So this trip goes all the way back to the 2004 trip and what I did at that time. I came back out and reported the situation accurately and honestly as to what I saw, and what my assessment was, and so I’ve been back to North Korea each year since then. So, in essence, we have a standing invitation to go back each time we visit. In 2010 I actually asked on several occasions to go, and I was told, “We aren’t ready yet.” Then, in late August, they actually said it might be a good time for me to come in late October, early November. I told them that since North Korea had now declared [in 2009] that they were going to build a light water reactor and do their own uranium enrichment, I’d like to see those facilities, and they showed them to me. So that’s a very long answer. But in the end, they trusted us to tell the story honestly and then they are willing to take their chance with whatever assessment we make. And that’s the way it’s worked out for each of the several visits we’ve made. I’ve been to Yongbyon, the nuclear complex, on four of these visits.

PT: What exactly is a track II dialog?

HECKER: It means nongovernment, nonofficial, so in other words, you get people who are from universities, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), who manage to keep a dialog going during difficult times, when governments are not able to talk to each other, for whatever reason. In the North Korea case, the US has no diplomatic relations with them, so unless special arrangements are made, like the 1994 agreement, or the six-party talks that began in 2003, there are no easy mechanisms for the two governments to talk to each other officially. So track II is an unofficial way of keeping the contact, being able to exchange messages and information. In my case, it adds a scientific component to the track II dialog.

PT: How long does each visit last? Do you just go for a week to one or two locations?

HECKER: So each visit that I have done has lasted exactly the same amount of time because of the limited flights into North Korea. We fly via Beijing on Tuesday morning, and leave Saturday morning. All of my seven visits have been the same way, on the state airline Air Koryo. We schedule an agenda where we do much more than just the nuclear issues. For the nuclear visit, the Yongbyon complex is 90 km to the north of Pyongyang (the capital) and so that complex we visited on Friday this time. We drive up early in the morning and drive back late in the afternoon. So the only day we actually saw the facilities that I reported on was Friday, 12 November. The other days we went to various universities—Kim Il Sung University, for example, where we saw a very impressive e-library with lots of computers, flat-screen monitors, students studying; a foreign-language high school; and a foreign-studies university. We talked to a newspaper bureau and to various other organizations in North Korea to get a better sense of the whole spectrum of issues and not just the North Korean nuclear issue.

PT: This ties neatly into my next question. How much interaction with the science community do you have on your trips to North Korea?

HECKER: We’ve had substantial interactions with the schools and universities, with the ministry of education, also to some extent, with the economy ministry, and particularly with one of the universities associated with economics. This time we went to this incredibly modern apple farm; in the past we have been to various co-ops outside the city of Sariwon. We’ve had some interactions with the North Korean Academy of Sciences, with the North Korean agricultural sciences, and my colleagues—John Lewis and Stanford epidemiologist Sharon Perry—have actually been extremely successful in working a joint project on tuberculosis with the North Koreans. Perry has worked with some NGOs to build a TB reference lab in one of the TB hospitals in North Korea. So these track II dialogs have been very expansive, but my central focus has always been the scientific aspects of dialog, in particular the nuclear issue.

PT: How do these dialogs continue when you’re not in North Korea? Is it via letters or e-mail? What type of links can you have with the North Korean science community outside of physically being there?

HECKER: So there’s only one communications funnel into North Korea: The UN [United Nations] mission in New York, which handles all of the communications with Pyongyang. So, for example, if we request a visit, the trip and its schedule is done through the UN mission. Once we get onto North Korean soil, then we have the ministry of foreign affairs that takes care of us. At which point we then rework the agenda of the trip. There is no direct dialog between North Korea and us without first going through this UN mission in New York.

PT: The main news out of your last trip was this enrichment facility. What’s the attraction for North Korea in developing and building such a facility?

HECKER: I’m just writing a couple more pieces that go into more detail on the why and how. My previous assessment of the enrichment program (published in Daedalus, January 2010) is that I believed that they have had such a program for a long time, several decades, but I thought that its current status was still at an R&D level. That’s why I was so surprised when I saw these high bay areas with 2000 centrifuges—so I was wrong. But the assessment that they have had enrichment for several decades is correct. My reasoning is that because they did not have their own light water reactors [which would require enriched uranium]—and the reactors that they have, which are gas-graphite moderated reactors, require only natural uranium fuel—you don’t need enrichment, which is one of the reasons why they chose to use that [gas-graphite] technology. So if they have been doing enrichment for several decades, it was primarily to give them the second door, the alternative path to the bomb. Now this facility they actually showed me, I believe that this facility most likely will be dedicated to doing low-enriched uranium for this light water reactor, which they are now building. They have had an interest in light water reactors since 1985. But they believed that they were not able to build a modern LWR by themselves, so they first tried to get one from the Soviets in 1985. Then they tried to get two of them from the Americans through the 1994 agreed framework, and then in this so-called September 19, 2005, agreement with the six-party talks, they again said they would like to have an LWR. So what they actually told us, and what you can read in the opening statement in my report, is, “Look, we tried with you, we couldn’t get anywhere, and so now we have to do it ourselves.” Again, the long answer is, if they are going to build their own LWR, they need to have their own enrichment. So now they have an excuse for saying that “we have to have enrichment.” But their prior interest, in my opinion, must have been motivated mostly for this second path to the bomb. Even if this building at Yongbyon is dedicated to low-enriched uranium, of course one at least has to keep open the possibility that they have another facility like this which could be dedicated to highly enriched uranium.

PT: One of the things that surprised me was the choice of location for this facility: It seemed like a pretty open spot to build a facility of this type. Do you have any idea why that particular spot was picked to build it?

HECKER: That’s quite a puzzle, and that’s actually what makes me think that they are going to do low-enriched uranium. It’s my assessment that they have to have had this type of facility operating somewhere else before they moved it this year, because you just don’t get 2000 centrifuges—you don’t build them overnight, you don’t get them operating overnight—so they had them operating someplace else. So if all they are going to do is make highly enriched uranium, why not just keep them there? Wherever they had them? Instead, they moved them out into the open and chose to show them to me, although I did ask to see them. So they specifically wanted to make this statement: “Look, don’t underestimate us. We know how to do uranium enrichment, and here, come and take a look at it. You can see that we did it.” So again, that’s a good cover for it. They need it for an LWR. None of us really fully understand how they think and how they lay it out, but to me, it all seems very carefully planned and laid out on their part, including this issue of showing it to me.

PT: So what’s your impression of the quality of the facility? I’ve read in your reports that you thought the control room looked highly advanced. The materials you need to build a facility like this are fairly specialized. Were they developed in-house in North Korea, or were they based on, say, the Pakistani designs?

HECKER: Again, we don’t know the answer to most of those questions. As far as the control room and those capabilities, the computers, the flat-panel monitors, and so forth, none of those things are on the export control list, so it’s not a surprise they have them. I was just surprised because I hadn’t seen anything else that was that modern in that facility. As far as the centrifuges themselves, again we’re not certain. But our best estimate is that we still don’t think they have the ability to make their own high-strength steel and high-strength aluminum alloys, so they must have procured that from somewhere else. But, of course, if you look back over their procurement history, there are many cases where the North Koreans were either suspected or we know that they had procured some of these materials. The North Koreans have had a very active procurement network for many years, so my own view is that most likely they made procurements for the last 10–15 years or so, and they would then put it all together. Most likely, they put it together themselves domestically, but they were able to get the components (ring magnets, bearings, vacuum valves, and so forth) in the international market. And these components and materials are on the export control list, but it looks likely they were able to work around the export control restrictions. This is as much as I want to lay out at this point until I really have more chance to go through, analyze, and think this through. What you’re getting now is sort of my top-of-the-head reaction to what I saw, and trying to interpret, how were they able to do this? I wouldn’t call this a deep scientific analysis. In fact, one of the reasons for getting this story out there this quickly is for other people who have been analyzing North Korea for a long time, to now work what I saw on the ground, to see if we can come up with a better analysis of what actually happened.

PT: So how much feedback have you had?

HECKER: I’ve heard nothing directly back from the North Koreans. However, if you look at the pronouncements of the official North Korean news agency, KCNA, two days after all the flurry of the news of my report, KCNA went ahead and essentially stated what I stated in my report: They are enriching uranium, that it’s for peaceful purposes, and they have several thousand centrifuges, in a modern facility. So it’s quite remarkable that the North Koreans said that. So one has to look at the timing; they waited to just right after my report, and then they came in and said, “That’s what we have.”

Source : Physics Today

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Siemens to supply 300-ton twin-ladle furnace to ArcelorMittal (US)

Category : Actualités

Computer-animated illustration of the Siemens twin-ladle furnace for ArcelorMittal Bremen. (Credit Photo @ Siemens VAI)

Siemens VAI Metals Technologies has received an order from ArcelorMittal Bremen GmbH to supply a 300 ton twin-ladle furnace. The plant will be constructed in the works of ArcelorMittal Bremen GmbH to replace the two conditioning stands currently used for treating liquid steel. This will substantially reduce steel treatment costs. The project has a volume of several million euros. The new ladle furnace is scheduled to come into operation in February 2012. The twin-ladle furnace will be installed directly downstream of the LD converter in the ArcelorMittal Bremen GmbH Steelworks and be designed to ensure the best possible logistic links to other parts of the plant and reduce crane movements to an essential minimum. A cross transfer ladle car will link up to the existing RH vacuum treatment unit. In addition, an ingot casting plant for producing special products will be served via a transverse track. In future, it is intended to use the ladle furnace to treat as many melts as possible – some 3.5 million tons of crude steel per annum. Its main task will be to heat the melt, achieving a heating rate of 4 °C per minute for a 30-minute period of treatment. Optimum control of the electrodes will be ensured by the Simelt AC electrode control system. The tapping temperature on the LD converter can be reduced by between 40 °C and 60 °C, which will lower the consumption of refractory material in the converter. The ladle furnace will increase the efficiency of the ladle treatment facility, and reduce operating costs. The ladle furnace will also be able handle fine alloying work and blowing operations, which had previously taken place in the conditioning stands. The equipment supplied for this purpose will include two six-track wire feeding machines. ArcelorMittal Bremen GmbH is a flat steel producer. It employs an integrated blast furnace / converter system to produce high-quality steel grades, primarily for the automotive and construction industries. It also intends to increase the production of tube steel grades in future. The main reasons for winning this order were Siemens VAI’s expertise in the industry and the excellent working relationship during the pre-project phase.

The Siemens Industry Sector (Erlangen, Germany) is the worldwide leading supplier of environmentally friendly production, transportation, building and lighting technologies. With integrated automation technologies and comprehensive industry-specific solutions, Siemens increases the productivity, efficiency and flexibility of its customers in the fields of industry and infrastructure. The Sector consists of six divisions: Building Technologies, Drive Technologies, Industry Automation, Industry Solutions, Mobility and Osram. With around 204,000 employees worldwide (September 30), Siemens Industry achieved in fiscal year 2010 total sales of approximately €34.9 billion. http://www.siemens.com/industry

The Siemens Industry Solutions Division (Erlangen, Germany) is one of the world’s leading solution and service providers for industrial and infrastructure facilities comprising the business activities of Siemens VAI Metals Technologies, Water Technologies and Industrial Technologies. Activities include engineering and installation, operation and service for the entire life cycle. A wide-ranging portfolio of environmental solutions helps industrial companies to use energy, water and equipment efficiently, reduce emissions and comply with environmental guidelines. With around 29,000 employees worldwide (September 30), Siemens Industry Solutions posted sales of €6.0 billion in fiscal year 2010.

Source : Siemens VAI

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Baosteel Adopts “Going out” Strategy (US)

Category : Strategy

A view of a large steel making workshop at a Shanghai Baosteel Group factory January 15, 2007 in Shanghai (Credit Photo @ Life)

2011-2-17 – In this year’s annual work meeting, Baosteel establishes the direction and goals of  promoting “going out” strategy and enhancing international management capability. In the wake of global economic integration, Baosteel’s positive integration is of great significance to the becoming of a stronger and excellent enterprise, to steel industry transition and to the establishment of national industrial brand. With the further deepening of reform and opening up, China’s steel enterprises will inevitably have to compete with world-class steel enterprises, which poses severe test on domestic steel companies. This requires a more open view and attitude so as to meet the challenges and difficulties. Baosteel should spend efforts to open up overseas markets and implement going out strategy. Meanwhile, in the exploration and practice, Baosteel accumulates valuable experiences, leads domestic steel companies to take the international development road and plays an important role in upgrading industrial structure and participating in international competition. The implementation and deepening of ‘Going-out” is a must for Baosteel to build global brand and develop together with upper and downstream industries. “Going out” strategy requires Baosteel to increase the steel products’ international market share, to achieve scientific market layout according to plans, to expand overseas customer base and deepen the cooperation with overseas strategic customers, to lower system risks and achieve sustainable development. In recent years, overseas subsidiaries and resource industry have demonstrated a good international development trend. Baosteel needs to seize the opportunity, to judge international economic development trend and downstream customers’ overseas development, so as to make plans. Under the notion of “service first”, Baosteel consolidates the cooperation with upstream and downstream industries, creates  industrial chain for upstream and downstream industries to add values and forms a unique competitive advantage in opening up overseas market. For Baosteel to become better and stronger, it is a necessity to promote “going out” strategy and enhance the capability and level of international operation. In the new development pattern, Baosteel should base on global allocation of capital, talent, technology, market and other resources in order to gradually realize the strategic, operational, management, and cultural globalization. It is essential to train qualified personnel for international development. In the “going out” process, Baosteel should be strategic demand-oriented and cultivate a team of international talents with global vision and ability to engage in international business. Baosteel should strengthen the building of innovation and entrepreneurship base for high-level overseas personnel. It should implement “Internationalization of local talent and localization of international management personnel in overseas companies”, the establishment of an international talent pool and reserve personnel career development mechanisms and progressively achieve a reasonable configuration of international talents within the Group.

Source : Baosteel

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A Specter is Haunting the Titanium Valley (US)

Category : Economie

US Consul General Michael Reinert, Sverdlovsk Minister of Economics Mikhail Maximov, and Minister of External Relations Alexander Kharlov (Credit photo @ State Dept.)

(Fr)

La région de Sverdlovsk commencera la formation de la zone économique spéciale “Vallée de titane” en mars 2011. Les autorités espèrent pouvoir attirer avec son aide dans la région des investissements de corporations industrielles importantes du niveau de Boeing. Cependant, les hommes d’affaires doutent que ces plans puissent se réaliser: il n’a pas été trouvé jusqu’à présent d’argent pour créer les infrastructures et les perspectives de développement du terrain industriel n’ont pas été définies. De même, les orientations de l’activité des futurs résidents de la “vallée” ne sont pas connues. Les experts ont assuré à “RusBusinessNews” que la zone spéciale deviendra probablement un offshore habituel qui permettra au business d’importer des marchandises hors taxes en Russie. La décision de créer une zone économique spéciale (ZES) dans la région de Sverdlovsk a été prise par le gouvernement russe en décembre 2010. Elle se situera sur un terrain de 750 hectares entre les villes de Nini Taguil et Verkhnaya Salda. L’infrastructure nécessaire sera créée en deux étapes. Au début en 2011-2013, 10 milliards de roubles seront dépensés pour fournir le terrain en ressources énergétiques. Il est prévu ensuite d’ériger des objets d’infrastructure sociale. Selon les fonctionnaires de Sverdlovsk, la construction d’une cité résidentielle de 30 édifices, d’objets sportifs et culturels, d’une route à quatre voies et d’une ligne de chemin de fer grande vitesse entre Taguil et Salda est prévue. La reconstruction de l’ancien aérodrome militaire de Salka est également prévue. L’aérodrome sera utilisé dans la chaîne logistique pour la livraison de chargements à la “Vallée de titane” provenant de l’étranger. La zone économique spéciale doit son nom à la VSMPO Avisma – fournisseur de pièces en titane pour les principales corporations aéronautiques du monde. On suppose que les partenaires de l’entreprise seront les premiers résidents de la “vallée”. Selon l’adjoint du ministre de l’économie de la région de Sverdlovsk Victor Doljenko, quatre accords d’intentions ont été signés avec les sociétés qui s’occupent du traitement du titane et de la production d’équipement pour l’usinage des métaux. Il y a également 12 lettres – demandes provenant d’autres partenaires de la VSMPO Avisma qui travaillent avec la coentreprise “Oural Boeing Manufacturing”. Ils devront tous défendront leurs business plans au Ministère de l’économie et du développement de Russie et après cela ils recevront leur statut de résidents de la ZES. Les participants de la “Vallée de titane” recevront de sérieux avantages fiscaux et douaniers: les entreprises qui proposent des projets de plus de 3 millions de dollars US et dépensent durant la première années de travail 1 millions de dollars US, seront exemptées de l’impôt sur les biens, fonciers et de transport. Outre cela, l’impôt sur le bénéfice sera réduit à 4.5% et la taxe sur la valeur ajoutée ne sera pas perçue. Les marchandises étrangères importées ne seront pas soumises aux taxes douanières. Les représentants du gouvernement de la région de Sverdlovsk affirment que dans deux mois il sera créé une société de gestion et que la conception économique de la ZES sera terminée. La première pierre sera posée en mars dans le grandiose chantier. Il est vrai que comme l’a indiqué V.Doljenko, l’argent nécessaire pour l’élaboration du projet de planification et la promotion de la”Vallée de titane” n’a pas été inclus dans le budget régional de 2011. Le financement fédéral n’est pas non plus prévu. Les entrepreneurs considèrent que l’on peut commencer à créer l’infrastructure sans le financement public mais que pour cela il faut de la clarté vis-à-vis des plans de la future administration de la ZES. Le business n’a pas encore cette clarté. Les membres de l’Union des industriels et des entrepreneurs de Sverdlovsk, après avoir discuté des perspectives de construction de la “Vallée de titane”, n’ont reçu aucune réponse à leurs questions.

Le dirigeant de la Sarl “Gazprom transgaz Ekaterinbourg” David Gaydt, a demandé en particulier si les résidents de la zone devront payer pour la connexion aux réseaux et s’il ne serait pas mieux de construire des puissances énergétiques sur place pour ne pas perdre dans la transmission de l’électricité? A son avis, avec une consommation de 150MW il est plus simple de construire une station électrique dans la “vallée” elle-même que de développer tout le système électrique de la région de Sverdlovsk et de tirer ensuite des déviations directement dans la ZES. La construction de nouvelles puissances est intéressante pour le business et permettra de se passer de l’argent public. Les mêmes questions apparaissent pour l’approvisionnement en gaz de la zone spéciale mais les autorités n’ont toujours pas de réponses pour elles. Selon V. Doljenko, le ministère de l’économie a fait une estimation de la puissance nécessaire mais il ‘est pas prêt à donner des chiffres concrets. Les fonctionnaires ont besoin d’information détaillée de la part des résidents pour établir un tableau complet des charges.

Le président du conseil d’administration de la SA de type ouvert “Société métallurgique de tuyaux” Dmitri Poumpianski est intéressé de savoir si les investissement dans l’infrastructure sont justifiés (rentables) avec le nombre actuel très réduit de demandes des potentiels résidents. Selon ses données, beaucoup d’argent a été investis dans la zone spéciale de Lipetsk et le retour est pour l’instant très modeste: une usine de verre a été construite et une série de productions annexes. D. Poumpianski n’a pas reçu également de réponse à sa question: les fonctionnaires lui ont simplement conseillé de proposer des idées et des projets pour défendre opérationnellement les business plans au Ministère de l’économie et du développement. La reconstruction de l’infrastructure de transport parait pour l’instant assez transparente. Selon Victor Doljenko, rien n’est clair pour l’instant avec l’aérodrome à Salka. La question de l’augmentation de la capacité de passage de la route entre Nijni Taguil et Verkhnaya Salda n’a pas été étudiée. Les experts supposent que la chaussée à “quatre voies” sera ruineuse pour les contribuables: un kilomètre de route avec un revêtement dur a été construit en 2010 en Russie pour en moyenne 17.6 millions de dollars alors que dans le même temps en Europe – pour 6.9 millions de dollars, en Chine – pour 2.2 millions de dollars. Il est évident qu’une partie de l’argent soi disant allant aux routes est accaparée par les personnes disposant de ressource administrative. En relation avec cela, les experts pronostiquent l’échec de n’importe quels projets économiques en Russie tant que l’intérêt de s’approprier des rentes sera supérieur au souhait de construire une infrastructure de qualité à des prix raisonnables. Les hommes d’affaires avec cela ce sont raisonnablement intéressés: si le perspectives ne sont pas claires, l’infrastructure n’est pas prête et, le plus important, on ne comprend pas où prendre l’argent pour sa création, alors en vertu de quoi nous allons posé la première pierre? Dmitri Poumpianski a expliqué à ses collègues que le projet à long terme et qu’avec une approche raisonnable il donnera un fort élan au développement de la partie métallurgique de la région de Sverdlovsk. Il a évalué à sa juste valeur les avantages économiques fournis – en particulier l’absence de TVA et des droits de douanes lors de l’importation de marchandises.Les autorités de la région de Sverdlovsk ont déclaré que les sociétés qui avant juin 2011 présentent un business plan et s’enregistrent avant la fin de l’année suivante comme résident de la ZES “Vallée de titane”, recevront la possibilité de commercialiser leur production sur le territoire des pays de l’Union douanière (Russie, Biélorussie et Kazakhstan) sans droits de douanes d’entrée et d’impôts. Ces avantages seront valables jusqu’au 1er janvier 2017. Les experts supposent qu’avant cette date la “Vallée de titane” sera intéressante au business qui recevra la possibilité d’acheter en Chine des composants et d’assembler avec eux des articles finis ainsi que de vendre les marchandises importées sans taxes dans l’espace post-soviétique. La probabilité est importante que ce soit notamment cela que feront les résidents de la “vallée” dans les cinq prochaines années. Qu’est-ce qu’il y aura après – personne ne fait de pronostic. Les conditions pour la fabrication de production de hauts affinages avec un long cycle de fabrication en Russie ne sont pas encore arrivées à maturité.

(US)

In March, 2011, the Sverdlovsk region will begin to create a special economic zone, the Titanium Valley. The government expects to use it to help attract investment to the region from major industrial corporations like Boeing. But the business community doubts that these plans will materialize. So far no one has found the money to build the infrastructure, the future of the development of the industrial site has not been clarified, and it is not even known exactly what all the future residents of the Valley will do. Experts have assured this columnist for “RusBusinessNews” that this special zone will most likely turn into an ordinary offshore financial center, which will allow businesses to bring imported goods into Russia without paying customs duties.

The Russian government decided to create a special economic zone (SEZ) in the Sverdlovsk region in December, 2010. It is to be located on 750 hectares between the cities of Nizhny Tagil and Verkhnyaya Salda. The necessary infrastructure will be created in two stages. Initially, in 2011-2013, 10 billion rubles will be spent to supply power to the site. Then, some social infrastructure facilities will have to be built. According to officials from the Sverdlovsk region, there are plans to construct a residential village of thirty houses, sports and cultural facilities, a four-lane highway, and high-speed rail lines between Nizhny Tagil and Verkhnyaya Salda. It has also been proposed to reconstruct Salka, the former military airfield, so that it can become part of the supply chain for the Titanium Valley, bringing in goods from abroad. The special economic zone owes its name to VSMPO-Avisma, the supplier of titanium products to the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers. It is assumed that VSMPO-Avisma’s business partners will be the Valley’s first residents. According to Viktor Dolzhenko, the deputy minister of the economy of the Sverdlovsk region, four letters of intent have been signed with companies that process titanium and manufacture metal-working equipment. There are also 12 letters of application from other partners of VSMPO-Avisma, which are involved in the Ural Boeing Manufacturing joint venture. They all must still defend their business plans at the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, and then they will receive resident status in the SEZ. Participants in the Titanium Valley project will receive significant tax and customs incentives – companies that propose projects worth more than $3 million and spend $1 million during the first year will be exempt from property, land, and transportation taxes. In addition, their income tax will be lowered to 4.5% and they will not be charged value-added tax and or have customs duties levied on their imported foreign goods. Representatives of the Sverdlovsk regional government claim that within two months a management company will be created and the economic concept of the SEZ will be completed. By March they will break ground on an ambitious construction site. Of course, it’s also true, as Viktor Dolzhenko reports, that there is a lack of funds to plan and promote the Titanium Valley, and money for it was not included in the regional government’s 2011 budget. Nor is any federal funding anticipated for this year. Entrepreneurs say you don’t need government funding to begin building infrastructure, but in order to do that, you have to have a clear picture of the future plans of the administrative bodies of the SEZ. At present, that picture is not clear. Members of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of the Sverdlovsk region, who were discussing the future construction of the Titanium Valley, were unable to get answers to a single one of their questions.

David Gaidt, the head of Gazprom Transgaz Ekaterinburg LLC, wanted to know, in particular, whether residents of the zone would have to pay for network connections, and, in general, if it wouldn’t be better to just build energy-generating capacities on site, instead of spending money to bring in electricity. He thinks that if the Valley is going to need 150 MW, it’s simpler to just build a power plant there, rather than expand the entire electrical system of the Sverdlovsk region and then bring power lines directly out to the SEZ. The business community is interested in building the new power facilities, and this will make it possible to forgo government subsidies. There are similar questions regarding natural gas supplies for the special economic zone, but so far there are no answers from the government. According to Viktor Dolzhenko, the Ministry of the Economy has made an assessment of the power supply that might be needed, but isn’t ready to give exact numbers. The officials need detailed information on the residents before they can come up with a complete picture of the potential load demand.

Dmitry Pumpyansky, the chairman of the board of directors for Tube Metallurgical Company (TMK), OJSC, wonders if it is worth investing in the infrastructure, when there are currently still so few applications from potential residents. According to his data, a lot of money has been invested in the special economic zone in the Lipetsk region, and the returns there are still quite modest – a glass plant has been built as well as a number of component factories. Dmitry Pumpyansky hasn’t gotten an answer to his question, either. The officials merely advised him to propose some ideas and projects, so that he could quickly defend his business plans at the Ministry of Economic Development. The illusory reconstruction of the transportation infrastructure is looking pretty spectral as well. According to Viktor Dolzhenko, no one seems to know exactly what’s happening with the airfield at Salka. Nor has there been any progress on the issues of increasing the traffic capacity of the highway between Nizhny Tagil and Verkhnyaya Salda. Experts believe that a four-lane highway will be ruinous for taxpayers. In 2010, it cost an average of $17.6 million for Russians to build one kilometer of paved road. This can be compared with costs of $6.9 million in the EU and $2.2 million in China. It’s obvious that part of the money that is supposedly being spent on roads is instead being appropriated by the people in charge of disbursing the administrative resources. This makes experts confident that any economic project in Russia will founder as long as officials have more interest in taking their cut than in making sure quality infrastructure is built at a reasonable price. The business community thus has the right to ask, since the future is unclear, the infrastructure is not ready, and most of all, no one knows where the money is coming from to build it, then what is the justification for breaking ground on this project? Dmitry Pumpyansky explained to his colleagues that this is a long-term project and, with a reasonable approach, it could really stimulate the development of the mining areas of the Sverdlovsk region. He appreciates the value of the economic incentives that are being offered, especially not having to pay VAT or customs duties on imported goods.

The authorities of the Sverdlovsk region claimed that companies that present business plans before June, 2011 and register as residents of the Titanium Valley SEZ before the end of next year will have the opportunity to sell their products in the member countries of the Customs Union (Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan), without paying customs duties on imports or taxes. These incentives are in effect until January 1, 2017.

Experts believe that businesses will be interested in the Titanium Valley until that date, because they will be able to buy components in China, use them to assemble finished products, and then sell the duty-free goods in these ex-Soviet countries. The chances are very good that is exactly what the residents of the Valley will be doing for the next five years. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. This is not yet the right time in Russia to make high value-added products with long production cycles.

Participants in the Titanium Valley project will receive significant tax and customs incentives – companies that propose projects worth more than $3 million and spend $1 million during the first year will be exempt from property, land, and transportation taxes. In addition, their income tax will be lowered to 4.5% and they will not be charged value-added tax and or have customs duties levied on their imported foreign goods. Representatives of the Sverdlovsk regional government claim that within two months a management company will be created and the economic concept of the SEZ will be completed. By March they will break ground on an ambitious construction site. Of course, it’s also true, as Viktor Dolzhenko reports, that there is a lack of funds to plan and promote the Titanium Valley, and money for it was not included in the regional government’s 2011 budget. Nor is any federal funding anticipated for this year. Entrepreneurs say you don’t need government funding to begin building infrastructure, but in order to do that, you have to have a clear picture of the future plans of the administrative bodies of the SEZ. At present, that picture is not clear. Members of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of the Sverdlovsk region, who were discussing the future construction of the Titanium Valley, were unable to get answers to a single one of their questions.

David Gaidt, the head of Gazprom Transgaz Ekaterinburg LLC, wanted to know, in particular, whether residents of the zone would have to pay for network connections, and, in general, if it wouldn’t be better to just build energy-generating capacities on site, instead of spending money to bring in electricity. He thinks that if the Valley is going to need 150 MW, it’s simpler to just build a power plant there, rather than expand the entire electrical system of the Sverdlovsk region and then bring power lines directly out to the SEZ. The business community is interested in building the new power facilities, and this will make it possible to forgo government subsidies. There are similar questions regarding natural gas supplies for the special economic zone, but so far there are no answers from the government. According to Viktor Dolzhenko, the Ministry of the Economy has made an assessment of the power supply that might be needed, but isn’t ready to give exact numbers. The officials need detailed information on the residents before they can come up with a complete picture of the potential load demand.

Dmitry Pumpyansky, the chairman of the board of directors for Tube Metallurgical Company (TMK), OJSC, wonders if it is worth investing in the infrastructure, when there are currently still so few applications from potential residents. According to his data, a lot of money has been invested in the special economic zone in the Lipetsk region, and the returns there are still quite modest – a glass plant has been built as well as a number of component factories. Dmitry Pumpyansky hasn’t gotten an answer to his question, either. The officials merely advised him to propose some ideas and projects, so that he could quickly defend his business plans at the Ministry of Economic Development.

The illusory reconstruction of the transportation infrastructure is looking pretty spectral as well. According to Viktor Dolzhenko, no one seems to know exactly what’s happening with the airfield at Salka. Nor has there been any progress on the issues of increasing the traffic capacity of the highway between Nizhny Tagil and Verkhnyaya Salda. Experts believe that a four-lane highway will be ruinous for taxpayers. In 2010, it cost an average of $17.6 million for Russians to build one kilometer of paved road. This can be compared with costs of $6.9 million in the EU and $2.2 million in China. It’s obvious that part of the money that is supposedly being spent on roads is instead being appropriated by the people in charge of disbursing the administrative resources. This makes experts confident that any economic project in Russia will founder as long as officials have more interest in taking their cut than in making sure quality infrastructure is built at a reasonable price. The business community thus has the right to ask, since the future is unclear, the infrastructure is not ready, and most of all, no one knows where the money is coming from to build it, then what is the justification for breaking ground on this project? Dmitry Pumpyansky explained to his colleagues that this is a long-term project and, with a reasonable approach, it could really stimulate the development of the mining areas of the Sverdlovsk region. He appreciates the value of the economic incentives that are being offered, especially not having to pay VAT or customs duties on imported goods.

The authorities of the Sverdlovsk region claimed that companies that present business plans before June, 2011 and register as residents of the Titanium Valley SEZ before the end of next year will have the opportunity to sell their products in the member countries of the Customs Union (Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan), without paying customs duties on imports or taxes. These incentives are in effect until January 1, 2017.

Experts believe that businesses will be interested in the Titanium Valley until that date, because they will be able to buy components in China, use them to assemble finished products, and then sell the duty-free goods in these ex-Soviet countries. The chances are very good that is exactly what the residents of the Valley will be doing for the next five years. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. This is not yet the right time in Russia to make high value-added products with long production cycles.

Sourc  : Rus BusinessNews -Vladimir Terletsky

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Merger & Acquistion in Metallurgy Industry is back (US)

Category : Strategy

A converter process of Nippon Steel’s Kimitsu iron mill plant at Kimitsu city in Chiba prefecture (Credit Photo @ AFP )

OKYO — The proposed merger of two Japanese steel giants is a sign of an industry looking to reassert itself and an example to Japan Inc. that restructuring is crucial to take on competition, say analysts. Japan’s biggest steelmaker Nippon Steel and third-ranked rival Sumitomo Metal Industries are working towards a merger that would create the world’s second-largest steel firm by 2012, behind Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal. The agreement is the first steel industry merger in a decade in the country, and analysts say the move sets an example to the rest of Japan Inc. as it grapples with a weak home economy, a strong yen and rising overseas rivals. “There is a desperate need for mergers and acquisitions to stitch together Japan’s diffuse corporate base,” said Nicholas Smith, director of equity research with MFGlobal in Tokyo. The Nippon Steel-Sumitomo Metal move is seen as indicative of the growing need for steelmakers to gain leverage as prices for coal, iron ore and other raw materials of steel touch record levels. “Increased scale will make them stronger in negotiating with raw material suppliers — the rapid run-up in material prices had really hammered profitability,” said Smith. “The merger will give Nippon Steel the scale to consider acquisitions of raw material suppliers, like the Chinese steelmakers have done,” he said, noting Chinese crude steel production has more than quadrupled in the last 10 years. The deal also serves as an example to the rest of corporate Japan. Many see consolidation in Japan’s corporate space as essential to taking on overseas competition, with too many companies making the same products compared with the likes of South Korea and industrial champions such as Samsung. “Often in comparison with South Korea, Japan is said to have too many players in such markets as autos and electrical machinery,” added Hideyuki Araki, economist at Resona Research Institute. “They vie for the same pie and can be worn out in domestic competition. There is no doubt that a single company that has a strong grip on the industry can better compete in international markets,” he said. Sony partly blamed a fall in third quarter profit on falling TV prices amid heavy competition in a sector where it is up against compatriots such as Toshiba, Panasonic and Sharp. “Japanese companies are forced to cut prices and have only slim margins amid too much competition,” said Hiroshi Watanabe, economist at Daiwa Institute of Research. The Japanese government has recognised the need for consolidation and is promoting M&As because it sees the need for more reorganisation in a wide range of domestic industries, including materials and electrical machinery. Tokyo is looking to encourage more mergers and acquisitions by simplifying the tender offer process, speeding up anti-monopoly vetting of merger plans and providing loans for deals, Japanese media reports said this week. The number of mergers and acquisitions by Japanese firms tumbled 13 percent on-year to 1,707 in 2010, slipping far below a recent peak of 2,775 in 2006, according to M&A advisory firm Recof Corp, the Nikkei business daily reported. But merger efforts have met with failure in the past year, with executives on both sides unable to iron out integration problems. Shinsei Bank and Aozora Bank last year scrapped a merger plan because they could not agree on a business strategy. Japanese drink giants Kirin Holding Co. and Suntory Holdings Ltd. last year abandoned ambitious plans to merge and create one of the world’s biggest brewers, unable to overcome differences over who would own and manage the future company. However, on Thursday drinks maker Sapporo announced it would boost its stake in soft drink firm Pokka, the latest in a series of deals in a shrinking market where players are searching for growth. While it is important to expand scale in the way Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal plan to as they seek more control over prices, a balance needs to be struck to retain enough domestic competition to drive innovation, analysts say. In particular, Japan must not risk ceding its advantage in high-end products where it still has a commanding share, analysts say. Its steel is seen a symbol of its manufacturing expertise. Toyota buys nearly 60 percent of its sheet steel for auto bodies from Nippon Steel and Sumitomo, analysts say, and Mazda and Honda buy around 70 percent. On the other hand, “anybody can make construction steel, and a dizzying array of companies do,” said Smith.

Source: AFP

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Strong aluminum demand boosts Novelis results ‎(US)

Category : Market

  • Net loss of $46 million driven by pre-tax refinancing and restructuring expenses of $94 million
  • Record Third Quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $238 million, up 20% YOY
  • Strong Liquidity of $848 million, up 34% YOY
  • Debt Refinancing positions Company for future growth
  • Phil Martens named President and CEO

ATLANTA, Feb. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Novelis Inc., the world’s leading producer of aluminum rolled products, today reported a net loss attributable to its common shareholder of $46 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 compared to net income of $68 million for the same period in fiscal 2010.  The net loss for the quarter was primarily due to one-time charges of $74 million associated with the refinancing of the Company’s debt as well as $20 million for restructuring activities mainly related to the closure of its Bridgnorth and Aratu facilities.Shipments of aluminum rolled products totaled 715 kilotonnes for the third quarter of fiscal 2011, an increase of ten percent compared to shipments of 649 kilotonnes in the third quarter of the previous year.  This increase in shipments was driven by strong end-market conditions across all product segments globally, particularly can, automotive and electronics.  Net sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 were $2.6 billion, an increase of 21 percent compared to the $2.1 billion reported in the same period a year ago, the result of higher shipments, conversion premiums and aluminum prices.  Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $238 million, representing a 20 percent increase from adjusted EBITDA of $199 million posted for the same period a year ago.  These operating results were primarily due to strong global market demand, price and mix and effective cost management.  “These are solid results, especially considering that this is our seasonally low quarter,” said Phil Martens, Novelis President and Chief Executive Officer.  “This quarter was particularly significant for us for a number of reasons.  We completed a major refinancing and recapitalization of the business, which positions the Company to significantly invest in the business over the next few years.  We also closed one of our smelters in Brazil and made headway on the closure of Bridgnorth, another underperforming asset.  Both of these closures will increase operating efficiency, reduce costs and help us focus more closely on our core rolling operations.  And lastly, we made progress on our debottlenecking initiatives and Brazil mill expansion.” The Company reported a loss before income taxes of $2 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2011, a decrease when compared to the $129 million income before taxes reported in the same period of fiscal 2010.  Excluding restructuring charges, unrealized gains on derivatives, loss on extinguishment of debt, and loss on sale of assets, adjusted pre-tax income increased 23 percent year-over-year.    Liquidity was $848 million at the end of the third quarter of 2011, an increase of 34 percent from $634 million in liquidity reported for the same period in the previous year and a decrease of $335 million compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2011 primarily driven by the Company’s recapitalization in the quarter.  “With the complete refinancing of our debt structure, this quarter represented a significant milestone for Novelis,” said Steve Fisher, Chief Financial Officer for Novelis.  “Our new capital structure gives us the ability to appropriately manage our business today while providing the flexibility to invest in strategic growth opportunities to capture the future growth we see in our industry.”For the third quarter of fiscal 2011, free cash flow was $45 million, compared to $124 million reported in the third quarter of the previous year.”Our free cash flow in this quarter was impacted by our refinancing activities, higher capital spending and higher working capital as a result of higher LME prices,” said Fisher.  “Going forward, we expect strong free cash flow generation which will enable us to meaningfully invest in the business.”

Business Outlook

The Company sees continued strong growth across all regions and product segments globally in the short and long-term.  Over the next five years, the Company expects the aluminum flat rolled products’ market to grow at approximately 34 percent.  To capture this growth, in addition to debottlenecking initiatives and Brazil plant expansion, the Company is committed to significantly investing in the business globally over the next few year

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Latrobe looking for sites in Pittsburgh to build a titanium plant (US)

Category : Strategy

Taking a sample at the EAF at Latrobe Steel Speciality (Credit Photo © Uwe Niggemeier www.stahlseite.de )

Saturday, February 12, 2011- Latrobe Specialty Steel Corp. is looking at sites in the Pittsburgh region to build a titanium processing plant that would employ between 55 and 60, the company said Friday. Latrobe Specialty Steel, which forges and finishes metals for the aerospace, defense, energy and other sectors, said it wants a site for a 75,000- to 100,000-square-foot plant to produce titanium that would be rolled into wire for use by customers to make fasteners for aerospace applications, spokeswoman Lisa Pierce said. The company expects to invest between $15 million and $30 million in the project, she said. Latrobe Specialty Steel employs more than 800 people in the United States, Europe and China, including about 625 at two facilities in Latrobe and one in Franklin, Venango County. The company will not locate the new plant in Latrobe because of concerns with possible contamination of titanium with other scrap metals used by the company, Pierce said. The company has looked at some sites in Westmoreland County but determined they were not “ideal” for the new plant, she said. Latrobe Specialty Steel expects to select a site by the end of March, Pierce said. Construction could begin after permits are obtained. The company’s forging and rolling mill facilities can produce the wire from processed titanium. The wire ranges in thickness from one-eighth inch to five-eighths inch, Pierce said. By moving into the titanium wire business, Latrobe Specialty Steel is competing in a market that is expected to grow as the aerospace industry uses more titanium-based fasteners, which are lighter than other metals, Pierce said. For competitive reasons, Pierce said the company is not disclosing the production capacity of the proposed plant. In 2006, Latrobe Specialty Steel was acquired by Hicks Holdings Co., Dallas, and The Watermill Group, Lexington, Mass.


Source : PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
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ArcelorMittal: Rodange et Schifflange pas menacés, mais.

Category : Entreprises

Michel Wurth, (Credit Photo @ AFP)

Depuis le début de l’année 2011, ArcelorMittal Luxembourg tourne autour de 80% de sa capacité contre 70% fin 2010. Pour autant, la situation au sein du pays est très contrastée entre les sites et le type d’acier qu’ils travaillent.

À Belval, Differdange, Dudelange, avec ses nouveaux aciers ultrasolides pour l’automobile déjà homologués par Fiat et Ford, ou encore dans la tréfilerie de Bettembourg, où on travaille pour le photovoltaïque, l’année 2010 s’est plutôt bien déroulée chez ArcelorMittal au Luxembourg et devrait continuer sur la même lancée en 2011. Ainsi, si la demande est de retour pour les aciers spéciaux et à haute valeur ajoutée, elle ne l’est toujours pas dans le secteur de la construction et les aciers de masse en pâtissent au sein du groupe. Au Luxembourg, cela concerne les sites de Rodange et Schifflange. Michel Wurth, membre du comité de direction d’ArcelorMittal, a ainsi expliqué que ces deux sites avaient perdu 30 millions d’euros en 2009 et 15 millions sur les trois premiers trimestres de 2010. Il n’a pas confirmé le chiffre de 262 emplois à temps plein menacés sur ces sites qui regroupent 900 employés mais s’est livré à un petit calcul. Il estime que l’écart de performance entre ces sites et d’autres sites du groupe est de 250 personnes. En somme, le site aurait 250 personnes de trop. Selon la direction, quand un employé moyen du groupe produit 2500 tonnes d’acier par an, à Rodange et à Schifflange, un employé ne produit que 1400 tonnes. L’objectif serait d’atteindre les 2200 tonnes au Luxembourg. Un objectif qui pourrait être atteint plus rapidement si la croissance redémarre plus vite que prévue, alors que son retour à la normale n’est pas attendu avant 2015. Pourtant, Michel Wurth a été catégorique, il n’est pas question de fermer les sites de Schifflange et Rodange. La direction a confirmé que l’accord Lux2011, conclu en 2008 avec les syndicats pour la sauvegarde des sites d’ArcelorMittal au Luxembourg, était toujours d’actualité. Le groupe ne fait que démarrer les discussions pour l’avenir des sites. Les syndicats aimeraient que dans ce cadre des investissements soient réalisés dans les sites concernés. Mais avant de procéder à des investissements, Michel Wurth souhaite que les outils des sites soient étudiés afin de voir comment les transformer avec ce qu’ils possèdent déjà. Il a annoncé à cet effet la mise en place d’un groupe de travail auquel seront associés les syndicats.

Source : Le Quotidien.lu

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Ladish Co Forges plan for Growth (US)

Category : Strategy

CEO Gary Vroman of Ladish Co. in Cudahy talks about his thoughts on the future of Ladish. Ladish has given their employees a profit sharing bonus because of a good year last year. January 27, 2011. (Credit Photo @ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel )

It has the world’s largest counterblow hammer, which releases 1 million pounds of energy with every blow, and the world’s largest isothermal press, which makes aircraft engine parts for companies such as Rolls-Royce and General Electric Co. A century old, Ladish Co. specializes in handling exotic materials, such as titanium, and can make forgings weighing up to 350,000 pounds with 28-foot diameters. It’s also in the process of being acquired by Allegheny Technologies Inc. in a $778 million deal that could bring more work to the Cudahy metal-forging operations. Ladish chief executive Gary Vroman, 51, has been with the company 28 years and has been CEO since December 2007. Vroman would not say much about the pending sale because it still faces regulatory hurdles. But in an interview he talked about the company’s current businesses and the economy. Here are excerpts from that interview:

Q. Most of Ladish’s business is in aerospace. How far along is the recovery in that industry?

A. It’s just getting started. And aerospace has two components, new builds and spares. There are maintenance, overhaul and repair components to the business. And when people have the money to buy planes, and many in the world still do, the new builds come on top of that. Aerospace has hung in there at a pretty decent rate even through the difficult financial period we just came out of.

Q. What’s the business climate like for some of your other markets?

A. Part of the defense business that we participate in, which is parts for jet engines on fighters, bombers and refueling planes, has been relatively steady for us. The helicopter business also has been strong. So we have aerospace that is just getting into a recovery, defense that’s been at least steady coming off two or three nice growth years, and then we have our industrial business where certain areas are terrific. We do big, technically complex things, and those markets are not too bad.

Q. What’s the employment picture like for Ladish in the Milwaukee area now?

A. Of our 1,700 employees worldwide, about 800 are here in Cudahy. We were below 700 at the end of 2009. If this year goes as planned, we are going to hire a few more people, ending the year at between 825 and 850 employees. We have a lot of skilled labor positions and jobs that, quite frankly, are sometimes difficult to fill. But it’s something we want to stay ahead of because the last thing you want is for markets to recover and not be ready to respond. I would like to think we did a pretty good job in the last business cycle of being ready for the uptick. And that is what we are here for, to employ people and give them a livelihood. I am certainly concerned about our shareholders and all other stakeholders in our business, but my first concern has always been about the people who come to work here every day.

Q. What has the hiring market been like?

A. In some cases we have been able to fill positions very quickly because there have been some people who have been laid off and have skills we need. Sometimes, we have a nice list of people we can interview and choose from, and other times we will wait six, nine or 12 months for the right person.

Q. As CEO, what are the issues that concern you the most?

A. It is the things that are outside of our control, such as the tone of the business climate and how everyone else is going to handle the recovery. We are at a point where there is reason to believe that our markets are going to grow, which means we should be preparing for that. It means we should be making certain that we continue to invest in the plant and equipment so it’s ready, and that we continue to invest in people so they are ready.  We can do all these things, and do them appropriately, for what we see is going to happen. But if the rest of the world does not come along for the ride, and people are a little more muted in their response, the supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If everyone sits around and waits, we are not going to get going. It has been our experience that if we get out ahead of things, we do really well. It has also been our experience that if we lag back and are too slow to be prepared, we really get hurt.

Q. What’s the biggest challenge for you this year?

A. I think it’s all about striking a balance. We are predicting that 2011 is going to be bigger than 2010, and we are making plans for growth. It’s not just about 2011 though. We expect growth in 2012 and 2013, too. Everything we see in our markets tells us that is what we need to prepare for.

Q. What’s the most important lesson you have learned as CEO?

A. It’s to listen, listen, listen, because our company is full of great people. And the thing I have had to come to grips with is, as much as I would love to control situations, you don’t control anything. You just influence. The only mistake I can make is not letting people express honestly what they need to do and to think that I somehow know better.

Q. What’s your advice for someone pursuing a career in your field?

A. Understand the business, have an appreciation for the equipment, the processes, the people, the markets you are serving, and what you do that helps make the company special. This is such a technical business, you need to have an appreciation for technology and manufacturing operations. That makes all the difference because the people in the business know, whether or not people like me understand it.

Source : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Timken to Invest $35 Million at its Faircrest Steel Plant in Canton, Ohio (US)

Category : Actualités

THE TIMKEN COMPANY TO INVEST IN FAIRCREST STEEL PLANT Timken is investing $35 million to install an inline forge press upstream from the rolling mill of its Faircrest Steel Plant, which will increase production to serve customers. (Credit Photo@ The Timken  Company CANTON, OHIO UNITED STATES)

CANTON, Ohio: Feb. 1, 2011 — The Timken Company (NYSE: TKR) announced that it will invest approximately $35 million to install a high-volume, in-line forge press at its Faircrest rolling mill facility in Canton, Ohio. This investment comes on the heels of the $50-million commitment in capital improvements initiated at the end of 2010 at the company’s other steel facilities in Canton. The investments reflect the significant increase in demand Timken has seen for its high-performance steel across all markets. Slated to begin operation in early 2013, the addition of the in-line forge press will generate value by increasing capacity, lowering costs through improved yield, expanding product capabilities to meet ultrasonic specifications that are more demanding and reducing cycle times for larger products. “This open-die in-line press will be the first step of the forge-rolled process for all Faircrest products.” said Tom Moline, vice president of manufacturing. “Adding this step prior to rolling will provide better yield and production efficiencies to significantly improve our operations.” The investment will provide particular value to customers in markets where Timken’s high-performance steel products are most critical to performance in extreme operating conditions, such as oil and gas, heavy machinery, wind energy and power generation. “We are making this next investment with the needs of our customers foremost in mind,” said Sal Miraglia, Jr., president of Timken’s Steel Group. “In turn, this will contribute substantially to our long-term competitiveness, which is critical to jobs and performance.”

Competitive Investments in Timken Steel Operations

In addition to the $50 million in capital expenditures announced last year for the company’s Canton, Ohio facilities, Timken has made a series of investments in its steel operations since 2006, totaling more than $200 million. Most are advanced technology investments focused on improving productivity and developing new products to strengthen Timken’s position and support long-term growth. They include two new heat-treat lines and a scrap logistics system added between 2006 and 2007; a long-length tube line added in 2008; and a new small bar mill, which was commissioned at the Harrison facility in 2008.

About The Timken Company

Timken’s Steel Group produces some of the cleanest, highest-quality steels in the world for the most demanding applications. The majority of steel manufactured by Timken is custom-melted to the customer’s chemistry and manufacturing specifications in solid round or square bars, seamless tubes or semi-finished parts.

The Timken Company keeps the world turning with innovative friction management and power transmission products and services that are critical to help hard-working machinery to perform efficiently and reliably. With sales of $4.1 billion in 2010 and operations in 27 countries with approximately 20,000 people, Timken is Where You Turn® for better performance.

The Timken Company

Media Contact: Lorrie Paul Crum
Manager – Global Media and Strategic Communications
Mail Code: GNW-37
1835 Dueber Avenue, S.W.
Canton, OH 44706 U.S.A.
Office: (330) 471-3514
Mobile:    (330) 224-5021
lorrie.crum@timken.com

Investor Contact: Steve Tschiegg
Director – Capital Markets and Investor Relations
Mail Code: GNE-26
1835 Dueber Avenue, S.W.
Canton, OH 44706 U.S.A.
Office:  (330) 471-7446
steve.tschiegg@timken.com

For Additional Information:

  • www.timken.com/media
  • www.timken.com/investors

Source : The Timken Company

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The founding history of POSCO (US)

Category : Histoire de la métallurgie

As he set about to develop Korea into an industrialized state, strong enough and diversified enough to defend itself without depending totally on the United States, strongman Park Chung-hee started to think about developing a steel industry.The aide handed this daunting task was named Park Tae-joon (no relative). Park had grown up during the Japanese colonial period and gone into the Korean Army, where in the 1950s, he had been schooled in some aspects of American-style management training, then new to Korea, with its emphasis on rationality and efficiency. Like other notable figures in Park’s nation-building enterprise, Park, a major-general, had a single-minded capacity for hard work. But he was not a rough and ready bulldozer type, nor was he a cutter of corners, such as Chung Ju-yong, the Hyundai Group founder. Rather, Park was a perfectionist.When his first efforts came to nothing – he was turned down for World Bank and U.S. Exim Bank loans – he used personal connections in Japan and an argument that the Japanese were honor-bound to atone for their 1910-45 occupation by helping the Koreans develop the country. This approach succeeded and, in 1969, he got the loans he needed in 1969. In little over a decade, the Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO) had turned what had been a sleepy fishing village at Pohang into the world’s single biggest steel production plant. With new plant openings in the mid-90s, POSCO became the world’s biggest steel-maker after the Japanese company, Nippon Steel. (POSCO has since been overtaken by Chinese and Indian firms and now ranks third in the world).As with everything about Korean growth, nobody predicted such a rise. Steel had been important for the Koreans but domestic production had been badly damaged the Korean War (1950-53). During the 1950s, the country managed to stabilize but, with bureaucrats not paid enough even for basic living, few minds were giving serious thought to development until Park’s 1961 military coup.The first 5-year development plan include a proposal for an integrated steel mill with an annual capacity of 300,000 tons, but the World Bank and other international bodies considered this idea overly-ambitious. Koreans would not be able to master the technology, and domestic demand would be insufficient for such a plant, they reasoned. In its place, several small-scale steel plants based on electric furnaces and domestic scrap were built.Five years later, Park returned to the idea of an integrated steel mill and called on Park Tae-joon, who was the chairman of the Korean Tungsten Mining Company. The new plan called for an annual capacity of 600,000 tons of crude steel. The government signed a contract with a consortium of seven Western steelmakers, known as Korea International Steel Associates in October 1967, which incorporated Pohang Iron and Steel as the operating company the following year. (POSCO became the official name in 2002, during a time when initials had become all the rage).This second plan, however, hit the rocks the following year because its make-up made the consortium unwieldy and it was unable to raise the target US$100 million in private capital to start. The consortium was dissolved. Park Chung-hee, still determined, opted to raise foreign loans to finance the steel plant.In that same year, Japanese officials, convinced that helping the Koreans would be in their interest, agreed to lend around 75 percent of the required capital ($52.5 from the Export-Import Bank, $46.43 million from the Economic Cooperation Fund, and $28.58 million in commercial loans). Mitsubishi Heavy Industries helped with planning and technology was provided by Nippon Kokan and Nippon Steel Corporation. This involvement meant a considerable role for Japanese engineers and experts.Construction began in 1970 under the close eye of Park Tae-joon. True to style, he set and then re-set deadlines, each time more ambitious and was on site to make sure they were met. The first phase of construction, a blast furnace and two steel converters with capacities of 949,000 tons and 1 million tons, was completed ahead of schedule in 1973. The plant reached full production in four months, eight months faster than expected.During this time, Koreans were being trained in Japan and elsewhere in construction as well as operations and by 1979, when the final stage began, had supplanted foreign engineers. Crude steel production capacity was now 8.5 million tons.Originally conceived for weapons manufacturing, the Korean steel business soon began to make a name for itself. Much of its product was taken a few miles round the coast to Ulsan, another small fishing hamlet which had become the site for the huge Hyundai shipyards and car factory.As for Park Tae-joon, he ran the company for 25 years and then went into ruling politics. In the early 1990s, he had opposed the nomination of Kim Young-sam as the party’s presidential candidate and wisely moved to Japan after Kim won and he was accused of running a slush fund – true or false, the kind of accusation that served as retribution for being on the losing side. He returned to politics in 1997, as an ally of Kim Dae-jung, and later became prime minister.

Source :  Korea Times –  Michael Breen

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Pakistan Steel increases steel prices (US)

Category : Market

Steelmaking Shop at Pakistan Steel Plant  (Credit Photo @  Pakistan Steel)

KARACHI: Pakistan Steel (PS) Friday raised prices of steel products once again by Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 per tonne in the local markets, sources told Daily Times. According to the source, the PS increased the prices of steel billets 150×150 mm by Rs 1000 to reach Rs 54,000 per tonne. Price of MS Slabs has been raised by Rs 1,000 to stand at Rs 51,500 per tonne as compared to Rs 50,500 per tonne previously. They further said that price of MS Thick Plate has gone up by Rs 1,000 to reach Rs 54,000 per tonne. Galvanised coils after witnessing an increase of Rs 500 stand at Rs 83,300 per tonne. Cold Rolled products have also increased by Rs 500 to stand at Rs 78,300 per tonne, however, Hot Rolled products have witnessed an increase of Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,500 per tonne in different categories.Spokesman of PS has explained the escalation of prices on its steel products in line with the prices in international market, aiming to curb the black marketing, smuggling and other illegal trade activities. He said that the recent increase in the products’ prices is mainly attributed to the substantial increase in the prices of basic raw materials such as iron ore, coke, coal and other materials.However, steel traders said the domestic sales of steel products have decreased sharply during the last two months despite the normal demand season in the country. They said that the continuous price surge in steel products is creating difficulties for the traders.

Source : Daily Times

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Alfa Acciai, scorie radioattive Container sospetti a Cagliari (Italian)

Category : Suitable Development

Lo stabilimento Alfa Acciai di San Polo (Credit Photo @ Il GIORNO)

Tre carichi partiti da San Polo che potrebbero essere radioattivi sono stati rilevati dal sistema radiometrico della Portovesme Srl. Ma Allfa Acciai sostiene che dai controlli non sono state evidenziate tracce tossiche

Brescia, 1 febbraio 2011 – Tre container carichi di scorie che potrebbero essere radioattive. Certamente ricolmi d’interrogativi inquietanti. Non fosse altro perché sono partiti da San Polo, quartiere alla periferia di Brescia dove l’ambiente è sotto assedio da anni. E sin dai prossimi giorni si attendono risposte dalle istituzioni. Nei giorni scorsi, il sistema di rilevazione radiometrico della Portovesme srl, in provincia di Cagliari, che si occupa del recupero dei fumi delle acciaierie per recuperarne, da essi, metalli ha fatto scattare l’allarme radioattività nei container partiti dall’azienda bresciana. Nessun rischio per i lavoratori sardi, dal momento che i container sono stati fermati prima d’entrare in fabbrica.

Le questioni sicurezza ambientale e salute si pongono con riferimento a Brescia, al luogo in cui i container sono stati riempiti. L’Alfa Acciai, attraverso una nota ha spiegato che: «In merito all’allarme radioattività scattato a Cagliari presso il nostro fornitore Portovesme s.r.l., l’azienda precisa che, già giovedì scorso e poi di nuovo sabato, sono stati fatti approfonditi accertamenti sia dai tecnici interni di Alfa Acciai che dal personale degli organi di controllo del NOE e dell’Arpa di Brescia.

Questi non hanno evidenziato né la presenza di tracce di radioattività, né il mancato funzionamento di tutti i dispositivi di controllo e allarme che l’azienda ha in essere per rilevare presenze di tracce di radioattività. Pertanto rimane da capire l’allarme rilevato a Cagliari che peso abbia, che tracce, quali sostanze rilevi e come l’evento si sia generato. In questo senso sia i tecnici di Alfa Acciai, sia quelli di Portovesme, ma anche gli organi di controllo stanno lavorando già da giovedì, appena scattato l’allarme; i primi responsi sono attesi per metà di questa settimana».

E la Procura di Cagliari ha nel frattempo aperto un’inchiesta. Ma a chiedere risposte sono soprattutto gli abitanti di San Polo. «Se i primi riscontri troveranno conferma — spiega Valerio Beccalossi, del Comitato di Salute di San Polo — è la goccia che fa traboccare il vaso. Martedì 8 febbraio terremo un incontro pubblico e abbiamo invitato sindaco, vicesindaco e assessore all’Ambiente».

Source : IL GIORNO – di Mario Pari

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Biography of Shi Changxu : the famous Chinese Metallurgist (US)

Category : Metallurgistes

Shi Changxu, material expert from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, delivers a speech on behalf of winners of the 2010 State Scientific and Technological Award, during the award convention in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 14, 2011. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

(Fr)

Shi Changxu est  né en 1920 dans   la province  métallurgique de Heibei. Il  décroche en 1945 le titre d’ingénieur de la  Northwest China Institute of Technology située dans la Province de Shaanxi.  Il quitte par la suite la Chine pour les Pays-Bas afin de suivre un cycle de  doctorat à l’University de Rotterdam. Il rejoint ensuite pour un Post-Doc le Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) puis retourne en Chine en 1955 pour prendre en charge le programme  chinois de développent des aciers spéciaux  et des superalliages. Shi Changxu est le métallurgiste chinois qui a jetait  les bases de l’industrie métallurgique chinoises des alliages  à hautes performances. Il a notamment contribué à mettre au point plusieurs nuances d’aciers ou de superalliages pour l’industrie militaire.  aéronautique  chinoise, il est par exemple le père de la nouvelle nuance chinoise  en superalliage base fer(808)  qui a remplacée le superalliage base nickel GH 33  ( 20.5 % Cr, 4% Fe, 2.8 % Ti , Ni bal).  A 91 ans Shi Changxu et toujours actif  et membre de plusieurs comités de recherche en Chine et à l’étranger. La Chine via son président Hu Jintao et son premier Ministre Wen Jiabao  lui ont décerné cette année le titre de  ” the 2010 State Scientific and Technological Award “.

AA

January 14, 2011, the National Science and Technology Awards Conference held in Beijing’s Great Hall, Liu Yandong read award decision. Awarded the 2010 General Assembly, State Supreme Science and Technology Award winners are Shi Changxu, Wang Zhenyi Two Academy of Sciences.
Shi Changxu (1920.11.15-). Metallurgy and materials science experts. Xushui County, Hebei Province people. 1945, graduated from Northwest Institute ,1948 -1955 studied abroad United States, were Dr. Oute Dan School of Metallurgical and then did postdoctoral research at MIT.1955-1985 Institute of Metal Research Chinese Academy of Sciences engaged in high-temperature alloys and high alloy steel research, leadership developed the first generation of hollow air-cooled cast nickel-base superalloy turbine blades and many other results, and used widely. Won 10 national awards, Guanghua Engineering Science and Technology Achievement Award, Innovation Award and other international practical materials. He was director of the Institute of metal, technical sciences, director of Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation Committee and deputy director of the China Engineering Vice President, etc.Special Advisor for the Foundation is the metal of the honorary director, honorary chairman of the Chinese Materials Research Society, Chairman of biological materials in China, the state director of Science and Technology Library, Association President and other houses of senior academicians. Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1980, elected 1994, elected to the Chinese Academy of Engineering, was elected in 1995, the Third World Academy of Sciences.

“Materials” Father Shi Changxu

“House” Senior Fellow, renowned materials scientist Shi Changxu. He was not only our materials science and technology community generation master, it is promoting the development of our outstanding materials science and technology strategist managers.  Recalling his own most of their lives, the older generation of “returnees” School is not much rhetoric. “As a Chinese, will contribute to the motherland, this is the first prerequisite of life.” He often says these words, though plain, is a crystallization of an experienced intellectual decades old to join the science, without fear of suffering, determined to serve the country’s pure feelings.

To return to the U.S. President destabilize

June 1955. Hot, San Francisco Pier, Cleveland No. bound ferry set sail from here to Hong Kong. Slowly offshore boat, standing on the deck 35, Shi Changxu very excited: “I can finally return to the homeland of the.” In the rolling waves, his thoughts flew back home to fight for the struggle with the U.S. authorities day and night. Shi Changxu Xushui Daying was born in Hebei Province, a “family loyalty, long length poetry and literature, following the World,” the scholarly family. Daying town 10 kilometers north, 15 km north of Baoding city, 500 meters west of the village is from the Beijing-Guangzhou railway, into the Republic after the war here is not that soldiers crossing the land, which consist in difficult. Shi Changxu nearly 40 people have a big family, father, teacher grams of the late Qing Dynasty scholar, to teach the family business, both strong Confucianism, there are strong patriotic ideas; his mother came from run-down of the courtiers, the notice of reasons , hard-working kind. In this family, Shi Changxu developed a human tolerance, open-minded optimism character. Shi Changxu in his 80-year-old wrote a README birthday, which talked about his childhood “wisdom flat, not a smart person.” It was shortly after a successful Northern Expedition, Shi Changxu also the second grade, the teacher asked after the recitation of the day and night, “the Prime Minister will”, the class most students back out, and he has not come out because of back and Pi Fazhan . Though not smart, but know that Shi Changxu diligence is the key. In 1929, he was transferred from the primary shop Jing Tong Primary School Xushui City model, study hard and finally fourth year examination in the county ranked first. Master Chang Lun Shi Changxu brother recalled, was to own and Shi Changxu county with the first upper primary school, some teachers and high school students heard that he is the younger brother Shi Changxu is all light. Old brother very well in school grades, teachers and students is Jieyou reputation. In 1933, Shi Changxu into the first upper primary county after graduation was admitted to the famous Baoding Shihan (ie the second Baoding, Hebei Normal). At that time, the school advocates “three Doctrine”, that is outside the inter pen but also hoe rod and gun control. In addition to teaching school, but also stressed the productive labor, to develop his love of plain living character of labor. In 1937, Sino-Japanese War broke out, he with his family to Henan, Hebei Sui Pingjin into the joint high school and later moved to western Henan Hsi-state school, renamed the National First schools. In 1940, he graduated high school, walk to the South and was admitted to Northwest Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. For academic excellence and become the school five “Sen Scholarship” one of the winners. When I asked why the teacher was chosen the old Department of Mining and Metallurgy, the Shi Changxu replied: “So I always feel that the development of mining and metallurgical industry could save the nation. When there is a saying, as a country of poverty, not the main thing is mined underground,Therefore, mining or metallurgical study was so many people, so I chose the Department of Mining and Metallurgy, “After graduating in 1945, Shi Changxu first class results to be recommended to support the work of the Commission engaged in copper smelting. In 1947, he transferred to the Anshan Iron and Steel Company Secretary of any technology.  September 1948 Shi Changxu to the United States Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, University of Missouri began his career studying, mainly engaged in the research of vacuum metallurgy. In graduate school, he used the principle of a vacuum vapor pressure, from the lead smelting process of separation of silver from zinc slag, more than 90% purity, this pioneering a unique approach to improve invented 100 years ago zinc gold and silver in lead extraction methods. Young Shi Changxu to the United States will soon be showing off his scientific talent. In 1952, he was the University in the United States Oute Dan’s doctoral thesis was on indium – antimony – arsenic ternary alloy phase diagram, for the future development of compound semiconductors made a contribution. Conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology postdoctoral research work, Shi Changxu subjects belonging to the U.S. Air Force “Silicon ultra-high strength steel in the role of” in the 4300 system, based on changes in steel, silicon and carbon content in the system study of silicon on the tempering, hardening of retained austenite, and secondary problems. In his study based on the developed 300M high strength steel, in the 20th century, 60’s to 80’s the world’s most popular aircraft landing gear steel, aircraft landing gear are often solved by the value of fracture toughness or impact severe enough andaccident problems. Doctoral degree in the United States during the Northern University invited him to return to teach, he readily agreed. But 1950, the Korean War broke out.To September 1951, the U.S. Command banned Learning Technology, Medicine, left the United States of Chinese students return home, is expressly prohibited Shi Changxu return to China one of 35 Chinese scholars. Ban said that, if violated or attempted to leave the United States punishable by 5 years imprisonment or a fine of 5,000 yuan, or both. In this high-handed policy, the people being raided, there was a long trial, it was even being held up. During this period, have firm belief in the Shi Changxu return it with like-minded persons with the United States began a resolute struggle against the authorities. The first thing they do is put the U.S. case of detained Chinese students return to their motherland, to provide definitive evidence for the motherland. Chinese students in the United States after returning to the ban, Shi Changxu and India and Bangladesh Institute of Technology has been linked to do a research scholar, which he returned for the curve and come up with solution.But with China’s victory in the Korean War, the U.S. authorities will restrictions on Chinese students studying away from the mirror, all depending on their departure to return home. Shi Changxu to use the old one and the Indian Embassy, India, through a sympathetic young diplomats to the letter forwarded to the Chinese government. May 1954 international conference in Geneva, this letter to protest the U.S. government become unreasonably withheld important basis for Chinese students to return, Premier Zhou Enlai to the U.S. Government made solemn protest. American news media has provoked much discussion the matter, “the Boston Globe News” also reported in banner headlines “in the United States asked the Chinese students return home”, with Wen Shi Changxu other published photos of three Chinese students. At that time, “Boston Globe”, a reporter interviewed him, Shi Changxu and journalists talking, conversation was rambling. He said he wants to go home and have to go back and cherished parents. His brother in the telecommunications unit of work, salary only enough to barely feed his wife and three children, he always said his brother did not want to go home themselves to blame. Shi Changxu and journalists talking half-truths, and friends know that after all laughing, but whatever you do, not cover up his bones “to return to” the faith. In order to build momentum and win the sympathy of the American people, and Shi Changxu, who wrote to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the complainant returned to the United States should not obstruct the Chinese students, and will distribute the letter to the American people. Summer of 1954, Shi Changxu and others working in the laboratory during the day and night to spend $ 50 with the drum mimeograph mimeograph bought Eisenhower complaint letter. Shi Changxu the two boxes packed full letter from Boston to New York to distribute. Spring of 1955, under pressure from the United States was forced to release the parties agreed to return to the list, some Chinese students, among them Shi Changxu. Cohen, asked his mentor, “If because of the low post, less money, I can help.” Shi Changxu declined to retain the enthusiasm of instructors, said, “Neither. I does not matter in the United States, but my country needs me ! I am a Chinese, China needs to me! “This June, he left the United States by boat, into the embrace of the motherland. His later years, whenever the recall of these, Shi Changxu almost total sense: “The return journey was like a war!”

“Materials doctor” crack “intricate case”

After returning home from the train station Shi Changxu butterflies carrying luggage to assigned work unit organization – Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang Metal Research Institute. At that time, Taiwan’s first five-year plan the construction of a climax, where the Li Xun, director of metal under the leadership of scientific research into the most directly serve the national economy, Shi Changxu metal which has been designated as the head of the Working Group Anshan. He specializes in the physical metallurgy, and the new task is related to iron making, steelmaking, rolling and other technology issues, he relied on the burden to provoke this pair, alongside their work, leading the whole group completed a number of important subject, showing his knowledge and ability to handle large production issues. He did not understand Russian, in order to need to rely on the dictionary, translated the “basic physics of metal,” a book structure and solidification of liquid metal two chapters. In 1957, the study of metal cutting-edge shift the focus of military materials. He was appointed head of high-temperature alloys group of people, also the director of Steel Research. From then on, he began to engage in high temperature alloy and alloy steel research and development work. The 20th century, late 50s, high temperature alloys in aviation, aerospace and atomic energy materials essential to industrial development. Shi Changxu lack of nickel from China only chromium-free, but also by blockade of the capitalist countries the reality, made of iron base high temperature alloy develop strategic policy. To overcome the general heat-resistant iron-based superalloy disadvantages of poor performance, Shi Changxu design elements such as the time in a reversal of iron-based high temperature titanium alloy in the conventional practices of low-alumina, a corresponding increase in aluminum content, which developed China’s first Fe-based superalloy 808, instead of nickel-base superalloy GH33 time as the aircraft engine turbine disks. The winter of 1960, is the national economic difficulties, in order for the production of high temperature alloys based on the Chinese domestic steel mills Fushun Shi Changxu led his unit and common research. When his wife was pregnant to take care of every morning and evening he would take the car to and from iron Menguan to Fushun, Shenyang, between even the most cold February as well. In a few years to the promotion and production of high-temperature alloys, he was almost every corner of the country’s special steel and aero-engine factory, to solve the practical problems arising in production. 20th century, early 60s, there was a domestic airplane crash. To analyze the reasons that is mixed with hollow ball bearings caused by, resulting in hundreds of aircraft can not take off, becoming one of the “intricate case.” Shi Changxu conduct a dispassionate analysis. According to metallographic observation, Shi Changxu proposed high-speed compression ball is caused by the failure of partial melting, which leads to the phenomenon is caused by the cooling oil is not clean, do this, if they can strengthen the oil filter can solve the problem. Factory accepted his treatment options, so that a large number of aircraft to be back on the blue sky. Once again, aero-engine plant to be scrapped for some reason thousands of turbine disc, which assist in the metal factory request, Shi Changxu was just back to work, and he did not hesitate to accept the higher risk task. After he and his colleagues calculate and analyze turbine disks that have been abandoned in the interim based on their specified criteria, individual selection, the majority of turbine disk again put into use. By Shi Changxu “on call”, but also solve the problem, it is affectionately called him “material medical.”

“Highly intelligent” before the scientific strategic commander

In 1961, the United States successfully developed casting technology of hollow turbine blades, and put into use, but the technology is strictly confidential.1964 China-made F-7 on how to improve air quality problem, the engine designed for materials engineers launched a fierce debate. Aeronautical Institute of Technology in charge of Deputy Chief Engineer of Materials and Professor Rong boldly proposed a “use of hollow turbine blades to improve the turbine operating temperature” of the program. Rong Shi Changxu host families Please work on the development of hollow turbine blades, and a “design, materials, manufacturing through-train” program. Soon, Shi Changxu will organize more than 100 people from the research team. The need for the country, Shi Changxu fight day and night with everyone in the metal casting of the crude laboratory. In design, materials, manufacturing collaboration of the three links, the less than a year, developed China’s first generation of hollow air-cooled cast nickel-base superalloy turbine blades, making China the world’s second use of such leaves countries. This research makes the turbine blades of jet engine technology has leapt two steps: the forged alloy to vacuum cast from solid to hollow leaf blades, and turbine blade manufacturing process in China is more subtle. In the “Cultural Revolution” period, Shi Changxu been a great blow. Metals colleagues recalled that in the distortion of human nature “Cultural Revolution” period, Shi Changxu was vilified as “US-Chiang spies”, the rebels He Wen and his colleagues along with political campaigns by: Shi Changxu people? Colleague Yoshimasa words to say “he is honest and the elderly!” This scene has to give people spiritual shock. “Cultural Revolution”, Shi Changxu by the inhuman torture, the rebels had been beaten Pikairouzhan. However, all the injustices and suffering of these have failed to shake his motherland, a sincere and trust of the Chinese Communist Party. After that, he was assigned to a college training institutions. Apart from his teaching, collecting and reading a lot of literature, get up every morning 3:00 disease desk book. Less than a year, he and collaborators completed a basic concept of both the latest developments have, over 70 million words of the metal science lectures. Then he served as director of metal, for those who still had his full courtesy, particularly in the staff rank equally on other issues, are all blown away. Flashback history in 1975, four air leakage in Guizhou 170 plants in a simple shed, the old man was admitted to an always Xiaohe. As he and his workers a day, drink plenty of water put out the muddy water pipe, lining up to buy moldy rice, maize and sweet potato dry mix made with rice, soy sauce, do not even drink that pumpkin soup. When people began to think he was just an ordinary scientific researchers later learned, he is to create a large hollow turbine blades expert – Shi Changxu. He leaves with the hollow with the transfer of production bases in Shenyang, the transfer from Guizhou to take the lead in the working group to help production. And he who has worked with colleagues in Guizhou recalled, that food, “if not hard to chew, simply can not swallow. But Mr. teachers complain, and very optimistic.” Even in this condition, Shi Changxu prepared from raw materials to the acceptance of standards, are hands-on. His research led by scientists around the clock for the formation of a set of factory production and testing of technical standards, so that the production of hollow turbine blades are quality and the yield reached a high level, and has become the most advanced fighter of the key components, after many years tests without incident, and mass production to the market. Achievements have been awarded the National Science and Technology Progress Award in 1985. The early 20th century, 90, Shi Changxu to return to this plant, factory’s manager, engineering and technical personnel, or even a retired old engineer, older workers have rushed to visit him, the scene was very moving. Research and development of biological material is a hot spot in the 21st century, China will involve several joint and can not learn to not join international organizations. In 1997, Shi Changxu learned through the efforts of several biological materials in China set up a joint committee, and was elected as president, and in 1998 to join international organizations, to avoid contradiction and conflict with the other side, while success in winning the 2012 held in China in the Ninth World Biomaterials Congress. He is not of biological materials expert, but his enthusiasm to promote the development of biological materials in China, completely out of Materials Science and Technology Progress in China’s sense of responsibility. Shi Changxu are optimist thinks is a “just ask hard, expecting nothing” people, as long as conducive to the development of national science and technology, we strive to be. Recall the past, has passed a ripe old age of Shi Changxu pointed to his head and thanked the top, smiled and said: “My hair is ah of these, half are in the pipeline when the corrosion out of the other half is off to Beijing after of the. “Yes, ah, as a strategy for scientists, Shi Changxu for the entire discipline of science and technology as well as our overall development advice, how can we not fall out of his hair? Shi Changxu Although very old, but still to our science and technology worked hard and spared no effort in striving for the development of national science and technology problems showed a strong sense of responsibility. Shi Changxu always said “Life should do something, intelligence, physique is the foundation, hard-working, enterprising is the driving force, quality, integrity is the guarantee, the environment, opportunities are conditions.” Every step of his life proved all of these reasons .

Source : Comhaha

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Asian steelmakers face input cost rise, eye price hikes (US)

Category : Economie

Japanese and Korean steelmakers are seen posting weak December quarter profits as tepid demand and rising raw material costs hurt margins, but mills in China and India could outperform, helped by stronger domestic growth.A reduction in stockpiles in China and rise in global steel prices in recent months have helped lift prices in Asia, and companies are expected to push through further price hikes during the first half of the year to cover rising input costs.Steel mills in Asia are staring at cost increases following floods at Australian coal mines, forcing them to scour for new suppliers, and coking coal prices are expected to rise a fifth to $300 a tonne, the highest in nearly two years.South Korea’s POSCO, the world’s No.3 steelmaker, will be the first major Asian producer to report quarterly earnings on January 13 and is likely to report among the biggest declines in earnings.POSCO is forecast to post a 40 percent drop in operating profit to 956 billion won, according to the consensus forecast of 13 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.However, earnings could miss those forecasts after POSCO cut its outlook in October. Starmine SmartEstimates, which gives greater weight to recent forecasts from top-ranked analysts, points to a 17 percent downside surprise and an operating profit of around 793 billion won.Analysts believe POSCO’s profit may have bottomed out in the fourth quarter, and would recover in the first quarter, helped by higher steel prices globally and consumption of cheaper raw materials purchased in the preceding quarter.”I do not expect POSCO earnings to rebound sharply, but they would post gradual recovery in the first half,” said Kim Mi-hyun, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities in Seoul.”The key is raw materials prices. Unless they rise sharply, it would not be difficult for POSCO to pass along raw materials costs on to customers in the second quarter, when there is high seasonal demand,” she said.Japanese steel mills, which supply to some of the world’s top car makers, are also expected to report profit declines, hurt by the yen’s ascent, a slide in domestic car sales and weakness in export prices in Asia, their main export region.”The yen’s strength was a pain, although buoyant exports of specialty steel to the U.S. on the back of strong car sales there may have helped raise output at Nippon Steel and Kobe Steel,” said Kazuhiro Harada, analyst at Nikko Cordial.Profits at Nippon Steel Corp are seen down 8 percent in the December quarter according to the average of two analysts’ forecasts, while JFE Holdings earnings could slip 41 percent in the period, based on the average of three analysts. Most Japanese analysts do not forecast quarterly profits.Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd, Japan’s third-biggest steelmaker, could also slash pretax profit estimate for the year to March 2011 after trouble at a blast furnace cut output and affiliate Sumco posted large losses.

PROFITS UP IN CHINA, INDIA

China’s Baosteel, the world’s No.2 steelmaker, is forecast to post a modest 7 percent rise in quarterly net profit, according to the average of 21 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, far less spectacular than a 12-fold increase in profit in the first six months of the year. The figures are derived from subtracting nine month profits from full-year forecasts.”In the fourth quarter it is clear that costs have grown faster than steel prices,” said Helen Lau, steel analyst with UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong.With Beijing tightening monetary policy and iron ore prices at high levels, analysts are pessimistic about the year ahead for the country’s steelmakers.”I don’t see things improving given there will be no fundamental improvement in steel demand, with construction of low-cost housing unable to offset overall decline in the property market. Raw materials prices will continue to increase as demand recovers over the rest of the world,” Lau said.

Preliminary figures showed its net profit in 2010 reached 12.81 billion yuan up 120 percent, Baosteel said on Monday.The company said it will raise its key product prices for the second straight month in February, driven more by rising costs than a pickup in demand.Indian steel firms are seen posting higher volumes during the quarter, helped by continuing demand from construction and auto sectors, but rising input costs may hurt profitability, analysts said.Tata Steel, the world’s No. 7 steelmaker, is forecast to more than double profit from a year earlier, when it had posted its first profit after the global demand slump.However, margins at European unit Corus, which accounts for two-thirds of its global capacity, are likely to be squeezed due to lower steel prices in Europe and higher raw material costs.

Oct-Dec Yr ago Reporting date

  • Baosteel (yuan) 2.26 bln 2.11 bln end-March
  • POSCO (won) 0.96 trln 1.59 trln Jan 13
  • Nippon Steel(yen) 39.95 bln 43.32 bln Jan 28
  • JFE (yen) 30.90 bln 53.10 bln Jan 28
  • Tata Steel(rupees) 11.09 bln 4.32 bln mid-Feb

Notes: For Baosteel and Tata Steel, estimates are net profit; for POSCO, estimates are operating profit; for Nippon Steel and JFE, estimates are pretax recurring profit.

Source : Reuters

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Albi. Feu de four à la fonderie Gillet

Category : Sécurité

Le s sapeurs-pompiers ont noyé le feu avec de la mousse et du sable. / Photo DDM, J.-M. Lamboley

Un incendie accidentel s’est déclaré hier, peu avant 16 h 30, à la fonderie Gillet, rue de Gardès.Un des 13 fours de l’entreprise, qui contenait une fusion d’aluminium de 400 litres s’est soudain embrasé. « C’est un four à fioul. Il y a vraisemblablement eu une fuite et le carburant s’est répandu. Les ouvriers ont immédiatement vidé des extincteurs mais ce genre d’incendie nécessite l’intervention de spécialistes », indique le directeur du site, Albert Brochoire.Ces spécialistes, ce sont bien sûr les sapeurs-pompiers. Le SDIS 81 a mobilisé 16 personnels et plusieurs véhicules. « Pour éteint ce genre d’incendie, dans un four à 800°, il faut du sable et une lance à mousse. Sur l’écoulement de gasoil, la mousse empêche la réenflammation », explique le lieutenant Nacci, commandant les opérations de secours. Très vite maîtrisé, le sinistre n’aura aucune conséquence sur l’activité de la fonderie. « Ce four est indestructible. Même la gaine en inox n’a pas bougé. Demain, on va le nettoyer et il repartira aussitôt », précise le responsable de la maintenance.

Source:  La dépêche

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Two Dubai businessmen want their Inconel 738LC nuclear weapon ingredients back (US)

Category : Sécurité

Federal district court in Detroit

(Fr)

Deux hommes d’affaires de Dubai vont déposer une plainte auprès du tribunal fédéral de détroit pour récupérer des pièces en superalliages  estimées à 662.182 dollars. Ces deux hommes via leurs entreprise ANATCO avaient commandé  à Cannon-Muskegon Corp – une filiale du géant  PCC  – 23891 kilogrammes en Inconel 738LC mais les agents fédéraux américains ont intercepté cette marchandise à la frontière américano-canadienne et sur le port de Huron au motif que ces superalliages étaient destinés au programme nucléaire iranien et que NATCO n’était qu’une société écran. Ce que nient les 2 hommes d’affaires de Dubai, et persistent à réclamer leurs marchandise.  La cour fédérale de détroit devrait statuer sur cet imbroglio juridico-politique.

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The businessmen have filed a claim in U.S. District Court in Detroit to recoup $662,188 worth of a rare metal alloy called Inconel 738LC that was seized by federal agents at the U.S.-Canadian border in Detroit and Port Huron.Quantcast The metal alloy, made in Muskegon, was probably bound for Iran, where federal officials suspect it was going to be used to develop nuclear weapons, according to federal court records. The case reads like a Jason Bourne novel and sheds light on some of the more unusual cargo passing through Michigan’s border with Canada. The filing is filled with international intrigue and allegations of a Michigan company being used to further Iran’s nuclear weapons program.Ansar Uddin and Jamal Saeed of the Al-Noor Alaili Trading Co., or ANATCO, argue they paid for 23,891 kilograms of the metal alloy, so they should be allowed to reclaim two shipments they say were seized illegally and unconstitutionally last year, according to court records. The businessmen say the feds seized the shipments so they could be repurchased at a steep discount by the original seller.”It is highly unlikely that ANATCO or its owners would be compelled to assert their lawful and rightful claim to their property … if ANATCO were based in a non-Arab country,” the men’s Dearborn lawyer, Nemer N. Hadous, wrote in court records. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood to declare the shipments forfeited to the government. The forfeiture notice cites laws prohibiting the export of any goods from the United States to Iran or the Iranian government. Violating export laws carries prison time and fines of up to $367,000. The case dates to August 2008, when federal agents noticed an Iranian firm, Mapna Turbine Blade Engineering and Manufacturing Co. , issued a request for 20 tons of the metal alloy. The request was posted on the website www.Alibaba.com, according to court records. Inconel 738LC is a high-grade, heat-resistant, commercially uncommon super-alloy made of nickel, chromium and boron. It can be used legitimately to build gas turbine blades. The alloy also can be used to build steam generators in nuclear pressurized water reactors. Mapna’s request drew federal attention because the private company was established by Iran’s Ministries of Energy and Industry, according to court records. The company’s objective is developing power plants and industrial projects. Sources told investigators Mapna is actively engaged in trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction, according to the lawsuit. Court records claim Mapna uses front companies that act as distributors “for the sole purpose of evading the Iranian trade prohibition.” Nine months after Mapna sent its request, an industry source in Massachusetts told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents it had received an identical request from Uddin, who owns ANATCO. The source said identical requests for an uncommon alloy should be considered suspicious, according to court records. Only four U.S. companies make Inconel 738LC — one of which is based in Muskegon. Uddin allegedly said the alloy was bound for the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. But the sale was scrapped. Uddin contacted Cannon-Muskegon Corp. in Muskegon, which agreed to fill the order, according to court records.  A first load was shipped April 30, 2009, from France to Dubai.  A second shipment left Cannon’s facility in Muskegon on May 13, 2009. U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Detroit detained the load the next day. “It was initially detained so investigators could figure out where it was going and why,” said Ron Smith, the chief U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer for Detroit. Days later, the third shipment was detained in Port Huron. By mid-May, investigators were sniffing around Al-Noor Alaili Trading Co.’s small dilapidated office in Dubai. Uddin, the company’s owner, admitted he didn’t have a buyer for the metal alloy, according to court records. Agents also interviewed Saeed, the Al-Noor Alaili Trading Co. official who is suing to recoup the metal alloy. According to court records, he admitted to agents the company had sold items to I ran from 2001 through 2004. But not since. Hadous, the trading company’s lawyer, said it was a coincidence the order matched specifications listed in the Iranian company’s request. The government’s theory could have a chilling impact on international trade, he said. “Under such a regulatory regime,” he wrote in court records, “free trade, liberty, private property rights and our federal Constitution stand for nothing.”

Source : rsnell@detnews.com

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Japan creates 1st artificial rare metal (US)

Category : Recherche & Développement

In a world first, Japanese researchers have produced a new alloy similar to the rare metal palladium, a breakthrough that could help alleviate the nation’s dependence on other countries for this resource.The alloy was produced with nanotechnology and has properties similar to those of palladium, a rare metal located between rhodium and silver on the periodic table of the elements.Led by Prof. Hiroshi Kitagawa of Kyoto University, the research team also produced alternatives to other kinds of rare metals.Rhodium and silver molecules usually do not mingle, and remain separated like oil and water even after melting at high temperatures. To mix the elements, Kitagawa focused on a technique that produces ultramicroscopic metal particles.His team created a solution containing equal quantities of rhodium and silver, turned the solution into a mist and mixed it little by little with heated alcohol to produce particles of the new alloy. Each particle is 10 nanometers in diameter and atoms of the two metals are equally mixed.The new alloy has the same properties as palladium, which is used as a catalyzer to cleanse exhaust gas and absorbs large quantities of hydrogen, the researchers said.Rhodium, palladium and silver have 45, 46 and 47 electrons, respectively, numbers that determine their chemical characterizations.”The orbits of the electrons in the rhodium and silver atoms probably got jumbled up and formed the same orbits as those of palladium,” Kitagawa said.The new alloy will be difficult to produce commercially, but Kitagawa intends to use the production method to develop other alloys for use as alternative rare metals.Kitagawa has begun joint research with automakers and other companies, but said he could not disclose any information because of patents and other reasons.Rare metals exist only in small quantities and are economically difficult to mine or extract. Because adding just a small quantity of rare metals can change or improve the properties of other materials, rare metals are called the “vitamins” of industry.For example, palladium is essential for making electronic parts, and lithium is used to produce batteries.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

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Rosatom purchased Ukrainian Energomashspetsstal forgings-maker (US)

Category : Strategy

15 000 tons automated forging unit includes 15 000 tons press fitted with manipulator of 170 tons lifting capacity and forging crane of 600 tons lifting capacity. ( Credit Photo @Energomashspetsstal )

(Fr)

ROSATOM, le constructeur russe de centrales nucléaires vient de faire une acquisition stratégique en rachetant Energomashspetsstal : le producteur ukrainien de grosses  pièces forgées et moulées en acier spéciaux  .  Par cette acquisition ROSATOM vise  entres  autres à  :

  • Casser le quasi-monopole que possède le   producteur russe d’aciers spéciaux  OMZ-Speststal  qui domine le marché Russe et celui de l’Europe de l’est dans le domaine des grosses pièces forgées et moulées  en acier spéciaux  destinées à l’industrie nucléaire.
  • Empêcher ses compétiteurs de racheter  ce fleuron  ukrainien de l’industrie des aciers spéciaux.
  • Sécuriser ses approvisionnement à travers une filière interne  pour accompagner l’essor de l’industrie nucléaire.
  • Maîtriser la production des pièces critiques en acier spéciaux destinées à l’industrie nucléaire.
  • Renforcer sa compétitivité vis à vis des ces compétiteurs tels que : AREVA, DOOSAN, et GE/Hitachi

Le Russe ROSATOM se met ainsi au diapason des grands constructeurs de centrales nucléaires qui maîtrisent depuis plusieurs années la fabrication en interne des très grosses pièces forgées destinées au marché du nucléaire comme le fait le sud-coréen Doosan au sein de son conglomérat. Le rachat de l’ukrainien Energomashspetsstal par le russe ROSATOM rappel  le rachat de Cresuot-Forge en septembre 2006 par Areva.

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(US)

SC Rosatom has purchased the Ukrainian metal works Energomashspetsstal (Kramatorsk) which is a specialist in casting and forging. Nuclear.Ru was told by a source in Rosatom that the acquisition deal was closed on December 22. “This was a purely commercial deal, without involvement of Ukrainian authorities,” the source emphasized, adding that the works’ shares had been bought out with cash from the owners. Purchase of this facility was “extremely important” for Rosatom, since forgings were most demanded parts in the nuclear equipment manufacture, the source said.

Interfax-Ukraine quoted a source at the state Rosatom corporation said Russia Atomenergomash has bought Energomashspetsstal a producer of special steels and billets for nuclear power plant equipment based at Kramatorsk in Ukraine.The source said, without saying how much it cost that “We closed the deal to buy Energomashspetsstal yesterday.”The source said the acquisition would de-monopolize the special steel market, which in Russia is dominated by OMZ-Speststal. The Ukrainian plant is licensed by nearly all the world’s nuclear power engineering players to produce forgings.The source said “Billets are the weakest kink in the expansion of nuclear power plant construction. He said only a few plants on the world produce these billets and queues form to order them.”The source said Rosatom is prepared in time to expand the Ukrainian plant’s product range. The plant will produce the whole range of products for us. This is partly why Rosatom sought control of the company as it needs to make the corresponding technology available to it. And if we hadn’t bought it, our competitors would have.”Rosatom might in time bring a foreign partner into the Ukrainian plant and offer it up to 49% of the plant’s shares.

Source : Nuclear.ru – Interfax & Steel Guru

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ATI intends to restart the titanium sponge plant (US)

Category : Strategy

Dec 15, 2010 – Metallurgical Union Technology International (ATI) to promote its titanium sponge raw material standard of overseas supply may run out after 2012,yttria oxide, the company could restart in Albany so the air titanium production plant. Mid-2009, ATI idle at Albany 22 million pounds of titanium sponge production plant, after 18 months has been to rely on third-party providers to maintain the downstream products. CEO L. Patrick Hassey said that although the current external supply stable, but still limited, probably after 2012 will lose supply. Overseas suppliers of vertical integration is the reason behind the supply crunch. For example, titanium producer UST Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan Titanium Magnesium Plant (UKTMP) joint venture with Pohang plant,yttrium oxide msds, it will make exports to the United States reduce the number of titanium sponge. UKTMP exports to the United States is currently the only major manufacturer of titanium sponge. Titanium sponge production in 2010 is expected to reach 22 million pounds. But this year, the company will ship Pohang sheet to further processing into non-aerospace grade commercially pure titanium plate, titanium sponge market companies fade from the world, put in more effort to improve their own production of titanium ingots melted,yttrium hydroxide, thereby deepening the industry value chain. The case of supply contraction, ATI has become the motor Albany plant suppliers. Despite the resumption of production Hassey did not give a specific date, but he admits was originally shut down the plant temporarily. If the Albany plant re-production, it will work with ATI Timet’s Henderson plant and another plant Rowley became one of only three in a large-scale production of titanium sponge manufacturers. By 2011, ATI will have an annual output capacity of 24 million pounds of titanium sponge,yttria oxide price, including the 1500-2000 million pounds of titanium sponge A-level. Hassey also said that if market demand increases, they also consider the expansion of production capacity.

Source:  PR Log

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Baosteel launches The First Chinese nuclear power steam generator 690U-tube (US)

Category : Actualités

SHANGHAI, CHINA  Worker loads steel products on a crane at a factory of Shanghai Baosteel Group on January 9, 2007 in Shanghai, China. Baosteel is China’s largest iron and steel conglomerate. It ranks fifth in the world with an annual steel output of 20 million tons.  (Credit Photo @ LIFE)

Recently, the so-called Chinese nuclear power first tube, the nuclear power steam generator 690U-tube went successfully off the assembly line in Baosteel Baoyin Special Steel Tube Co., Ltd.. In the test, the product’s bend radius, straightness and other physical properties conform entirely to standard. The first batch of products will be used on Fangchenggang No1 nuclear power unit. As a result, following France, Japan and Sweden, China becomes the fourth country capable of producing such product.Nuclear steam generator 690U tube is the key special material used in million-kilowatt nuclear power plant. Because of its extremely demanding manufacturing requirements, manufacturing process is extremely complex and represents the current nuclear power production top level. In accordance with national nuclear power development overall strategic planning and the demand for clean energy, joint ventured by Baosteel, Yinhuan company and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, Baoyin Special Steel Tube Co.,Ltd. was formed by Baosteel and the first domestic nuclear power steam generator 690U-tube professional production line was built. The project was grounded in June 2007 and construction was officially started in August the same year.The first domestic nuclear power steam generator 690U tube will be delivered to Dongfang Electric (Guangzhou) Heavy Machinery Co., Ltd.. The product testing representative Gong Yuchang said, “Baosteel 690U-tube site testing equipment is of world-class level. According to the assessment of product manufacturing, item control, quality assurance and quality control ability, Dongfang Electric Steel has identified Baosteel as qualified supplier.

Source: Basoteel

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ThyssenKrupp Opens Calvert Steel Mill plant (US)

Category : Actualités

(Credit Photo @ FoxTen News)

CALVERT, Alabama (WALA) – It’s been several years in the making, but Friday, the Thyssenkrupp steel plant in Calvert will hold its grand opening. In this season of giving, it will be hard pressed for Mobile County to receive a gift more significant than a giant glowing piece of steel. Since November 2007, the county has been waiting for the ThyssenKrupp steel mill in Calvert to open. Friday, the wait is over.  “This has been a moment we’ve been waiting for for three years,” said Scott Posey, the communication director for ThyssenKrupp Steel USA. “So it’s hard to even describe how excited we are to be here at this moment.” Claudia Zimmermann, the director of economic development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce was the original project manager for recruiting ThyssenKrupp. “The project started in February 2006, so it’s been several years to come to this point. On the state and local levels, we had almost 100 people involved in winning this project,” said Zimmermann. The German steel-maker will hold its grand opening celebration in one of the facilities at the $5-billion complex, which should ultimately provide around 2,700 jobs. Posey said while the steel industry has struggled recently along with the economy, the future at TK looks bright. “We weren’t looking at this as a short-term investment,” Posey said. “You don’t look at $5-billion and expect that to turnaround overnight. We’re looking at his like a multi-generational investment.” One of the biggest benefits of having a large international corporation like ThyssenKrupp in Mobile County is that it serves as an example for other international companies to follow suit. “With the largest private investment in the United States coming to Alabama, it definitely puts us on the international map and people know where Mobile, Alabama is,” explains Zimmermann. It’s where the gift of steel keeps giving. ThyssenKrupp officials said there will be about 4,000 invited guests at the grand opening show and festivities, including Governor Bob Riley.

Source : Fox Ten News

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The Three battles of Nippon Steel’s Chairman (US)

Category : Economie

Chairman Akio Mimura says soaring prices of raw materials are among the steelmaker’s biggest challenges. (Credit Photo @ Andreas Seibert for The Wall Street Journal)

Akio Mimura, chairman of Nippon Steel Corp., is trying to restore the Japanese company’s luster while battling a strong yen, rising raw-materials prices and increased competition from other steelmakers trying to tap China’s lucrative market.Mr. Mimura, through an interpreter, says this is one of the toughest times to be a Japanese steel executive. The yen’s strength makes domestic steel production more expensive when sold in overseas markets, but he says he feels a social responsibility to keep jobs in Japan. Chairman Akio Mimura says soaring prices of raw materials are among the steelmaker’s biggest challenges. Meanwhile, the cost of raw materials like iron ore and coal are rising while uneven global demand for steel pressures prices. He also must determine the best way to capitalize on China’s rising demand. In a bid to recapture Nippon’s influence within the industry, the company is offering technological expertise to Chinese steelmakers to get a foothold into that market by showing the Chinese that Nippon can be a better partner than steelmakers who are unwilling to share technological secrets. Mr. Mimura recently sat for an interview in Tokyo. Edited excerpts:

WSJ: What is one of the biggest problems Nippon is facing?

Mr. Mimura: The soaring prices of raw materials. As you know, iron ore, coking coal as well as other minerals, are priced by supply and demand.Our strong concern relates to the concentration of ore suppliers.

WSJ: How do you manage Nippon through these high raw-material prices?

Mr. Mimura: In the short term, we have limited options. However, mid- to long term, we can make innovations in technology.

WSJ: What kinds of technological changes are you developing to counter the increase in raw-material prices?

Mr. Mimura: For instance, you can add tar to increase the hardening qualities of softer coking coals [used in steel production]. Coal is converted into cokes. It needs to maintain a certain degree of hardness in order to have the air circulating effectively.

WSJ: What about buying your own sources of raw materials, such as iron ore and coal mines, as your rival ArcelorMittal is doing now?

Mr. Mimura: Our cash flow is limited. We can’t do everything. We are not trying to make a profit out of mining as a business.

One major direction we are pursuing is overseas mining joint ventures. Unless we have some amount of captive mine supply materials, we won’t be able to enjoy advantages in this competitive landscape. It does not necessarily involve physical raw materials being supplied from captive mines, but equity investments in mines. That lowers the effective price of our sourcing of raw materials because we receive dividends.

WSJ: Unlike some other steel makers, Nippon is allowing China to use some of Nippon’s technological advances free. Why would Nippon give these secrets away?

Mr. Mimura: We understand that U.S. steel producers are very hesitant in disclosing technologies. We have made an exception for environmentally friendly technologies. There is a constant risk whether the disclosure of technology will strengthen the technology capabilities of our competitors. This drainage of technology is a constant question we need to address effectively.

WSJ: is it fair to say that Nippon’s future growth is going to be outside of Japan?

Mr. Mimura: Having steel mills in Japan is most favorable. We could develop close relationships with [Japanese customers. Second, we would like to provide local employment and maintain that social responsibility.However, it might be better with a change in the global environment to capture demand directly where it exists. Demand is rapidly growing in other parts of the world outside of Japan. This has been reidentified within our priorities. We have turned our position to a global player rather than being a domestically production-based player. Therefore, we are developing all of our new capacity overseas.

WSJ: Where is Nippon seeing opportunities to grow and in which kinds of steel products?

Mr. Mimura: Galvanized automotive steel [which has properties to avoid rust]. We have two lines in China, as well as in Brazil. We are advancing to launch one line in Mexico. We have one line existing in the United States. We are advancing in India.

WSJ: Is one reason why Nippon is mobilizing its growth out of Japan and into other countries due to the strength of the yen?

Mr. Mimura: The concern that I have most urgently is the sharp appreciation of the yen, which has, I believe, accelerated the pace of transplanting [production] overseas because it results in reduced domestic demand.

WSJ: You are already under pressure to be more environmentally friendly within Japan. Can Nippon achieve this?

Mr. Mimura: The Japanese government has declared that Japan would like to further reduce emissions by another 25%. If this was implemented as pledged, it would be almost impossible to maintain steel production or develop new capacity within Japan. Of course, we will see how the debate works out internally among the Japanese sectors that are involved and how Japan would like to balance this with the rest of the world.

WSJ: Many steelmakers around the world are trying to get a leg up by closing their doors to imports or seeking government subsidies. Is Nippon looking to the Japanese government for help?

Mr. Mimura: We believe we are well positioned to enhance our global competitiveness, so we are not seeking any government subsidies to sustain our businesses.

However, there are other external conditions: corporate income-tax rates, environmental regulations, as well as market access to overseas by economic-partnership agreements. We have strongly demanded the government to at least maintain an equal footing with our competitors abroad in these terms.

Source : WallStreet Journal  – Robert Guy Matthews

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Chinese companies recruiting Japanese Steel Engineers (US)

Category : Economie

Un employé de Japan SteelWorks posant devant une piéce en acier forgée pour une centrale nucléaire.

Le quotidien japonais  ASAHI   dans son édition du 4 décembre 2010, vient de publier un article très intéressant sur le  phénomène des ingénieurs et chercheurs  japonais qui se font recrutés au sein  des entreprises chinoises notamment dans le secteur de l’acier. La Chine cible notamment les retraités de l’industrie et de la recherche japonaise pour profiter de leurs immense savoir-faire,  accumulé pendant des décennies de labeurs. A l’instar de cet retraité japonais  de l’industrie de l’acier que cite le quotidien ASAHI en exemple qui  a été embauché par un  groupe chinois de l’acier en le mettant à la tête d’un centre de R&D. Un centre où travaillent plus de 115 ingénieurs de toutes nationalités. La Chine n’a pas juste envie de copier le savoir faire du monde occidental, elle veut se positionner comme  le leader l’industrie mondiale du  21éme siècles. En recrutant ce métallurgiste japonais le CEO  de ce groupe chinois  de la métallurgie qui fait partie de 500 plus grosses fortunes au Monde selon le magazine FORBES  lui a dit ceci : “Use all the money that you need. I want you to develop the technology that will support the future of this company by converting it to a course of high-end products.”. Une phrase qui en dit long sur les ambitions chinoises dans le domaine de la R&D. Un pays qui compte 17.000 universités et 24 millions d’étudiants a tout le potentiel pour développer sa R&D mais la Chine veut  rattraper au plus vite le retard de son  industrie et sa recherche en profitant au maximum des retraités occidentaux. Au moment où en Europe et aux USA les seniors  et les retraités de l’industrie sont considérés comme un “problème”   , la Chine voit en eux une solution et une aubaine et n’hésite pas à les attirer et les faire venir en Chine. En partant en retraité, les ingénieurs et techniciens de l’industrie  métallurgiques occidentale partent en emportant avec eux  un savoir faire inestimable  et parfois aussi de véritables  secrets industriels  acquis  grâce à d’importants efforts matériels et humains emmagasinés  pendant des décennies et qui risquent d’être  livrés sur un plateau  à des pays émergents qui ont soif de savoir-faire industriel  et qui ne se gêneront pas à embaucher des retraités de l’industrie occidentale. Un “espionnage industriel” qui ne dit pas son nom et dont les groupes métallurgiques occidentaux devraient s’en méfier… il en va de leur survie.

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Despite the intensifying efforts of Japanese companies to protect their prized technology, the information continues to reach rival companies overseas, particularly in China.Yet it is not necessarily industrial espionage or outright theft that is causing the leaks. More often than not, the source is simply a retired Japanese engineer just looking for a place to work.One example is IAT, an automobile design and development company that has set up a work place in the suburbs of Beijing.The company handles many orders to develop new brands for Chinese manufacturers under Chinese President Hu Jintao’s call for “indigenous innovation.”Within IAT’s warehouse-like building are such Japanese vehicles as Toyota Motor Corp.’s Corolla and Allion.Narrow tape is attached to the curves of the car interiors to make readily visible what lines have been used. Prototypes of car interiors were being made with clay nearby.”We received requests from manufacturers who say, ‘We want an interior like this brand,'” said chief designer Chen Qunyi.About one-third of IAT’s 180 or so senior designers have been hired from abroad. Playing a central role are about 40 Japanese engineers who used to work for such manufacturers as Isuzu Motors Ltd. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.”Japan is a nation that is very cold to people who have quit their companies. We are grateful that skilled retirees are willing to come to China,” IAT Chairman Xuan Qiwu said.Xuan himself studied in Japan and once worked on engine development at Mitsubishi Motors. He founded IAT after leaving Mitsubishi Motors and recruited retired engineers from the company.In January 2009, Xuan visited a research lab in Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture, a research base for Enax Inc.Enax was founded by Kazunori Ozawa, 65, after he led the development of the world’s first mass-produced lithium-ion batteries while working at Sony Corp.IAT is now seeking to move into electric vehicles, a forte of Japan.”While it may be difficult to overtake Japan and the West in cars that run on gasoline, we do have a chance of becoming the top company in the world if it is electric cars,” Xuan explained.IAT’s plans call for cooperating with venture businesses that have their own technology to produce “kits” of main auto parts, such as batteries and motors. Chinese manufacturers would be able to sell electric vehicles by installing those kits into their existing vehicles.Negotiations with Ozawa led to the decision to build a battery factory through a joint venture in Shanghai. The leading shareholder in the joint venture will be a Chinese government-affiliated research institute in charge of creating technological standards.The collision between a Chinese trawler and two Japan Coast Guard vessels off the Senkaku Islands in September had no effect on the preparations, and the factory will begin operations next summer.”It is obvious that they want to know various things,” Ozawa said. “By bringing in lawyers from both Japan and China, we have limited the technology that we provide. I have no concerns because we have also implemented legal defense measures.”However, some within the Japanese automobile industry have raised concerns that China could swallow up Japan’s advanced technology along with the venture businesses.China has obtained foreign capital and technology by promising access to a huge market for the technology.As China’s efforts to obtain technology have moved to the cutting edge, Chinese companies are targeting key individuals involved in the development of automobile batteries, LCD and plasma TV sets and semiconductor design.One such individual is an engineer who has won international awards in materials engineering and who now lives in a municipality along the Changjiang river where steel manufacturing is the main industry.The engineer, who asked for anonymity, lives about a five-minute drive from the steel works in a hotel room provided by the steel company.The engineer was given free rein over the research department and handled everything from creating the organization and designing the research building to hiring staff. Now, about 115 researchers from around the world work there. Five of the 15 in senior positions are engineers who used to work for Japanese companies.The individual fondly recalls when the chairman of the company that broke into Fortune’s list of the world’s top 500 companies said: “Use all the money that you need. I want you to develop the technology that will support the future of this company by converting it to a course of high-end products.”After retiring from a major Japanese steelmaker, the engineer visited the Chinese company on a number of occasions to give lectures at the request of an acquaintance. The individual at first was hesitant when approached by the company chairman about working for him.”It is highly unlikely that a major steel works will be built in Japan, and I found the possibility of working together with young engineers who I would train very attractive,” the individual said.At the same time, the engineer held concerns that “if I taught them everything, problems might appear for the operations of Japanese companies.”The engineer also thought that the Chinese company probably wanted the technology that Japan is rightfully proud of, such as high-end magnetic steel sheets used in motor cores and super-high-tensile steel used in automobiles.
The individual finally agreed on the condition that everything could not be taught.”I thought that goodwill between Japan and China might proceed if my experience and technology could contribute to Chinese society,” the engineer said.But the hard-line stance taken by the Chinese government over the incident near the Senkaku Islands has given the engineer second thoughts.The incident has also increased speculation that the passing of Japanese technology might only benefit China in the end.The United States has raised major concerns about China’s recent efforts to obtain technology. A report for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce described China’s efforts as a “blueprint for technology theft on a scale the world has never seen before.”That criticism first emerged from around 2003, when Chinese companies began recruiting Japanese engineers who had been let go amid early-retirement programs pushed by home appliance manufacturers and the closures of entire business divisions to concentrate resources on a few sectors.An engineer in his 50s working for a major Japanese manufacturer still receives offers from China for a two-year contract with an annual income of 50 million yen ($590,000).A scout who approached him had a list of specific individuals targeted. Such lists include not only the names of the engineers, but their experience, affiliated department, technological specialization, standing within the company, evaluation and remuneration. There are also comments saying the individual is not being rewarded with an appropriate position despite the technology held.The list was compiled after talking to retirees hired by the Chinese company.”While I don’t want to sell out my old company, mandatory retirement is approaching and I have to think about my future,” one individual said.Since 2003, the Guangdong Galanz Enterprise Group Co., a major home appliance company, has hired several dozen engineers from Japan and South Korea.”In addition to methods for quality control and standardizing work procedures, we also learned the importance of dealing with everything in a serious manner from the Japanese engineers,” Liang Zhaoxian, the company’s chief executive officer, said.Guangdong Galanz set up a research institute in Osaka in 2006. While it started out as a manufacturer of microwave ovens, it developed the core parts of air conditioners after hiring engineers who used to work at major Japanese appliance manufacturers. It now also produces refrigerators.”In home appliances, Chinese companies have become stronger and Japanese companies have lost the competitiveness they had in the past,” Liang said. “With the development of core technology having reached the end of one stage, future competition will involve coming up with the products that best match their respective markets.”If Japanese companies are thinking about competing in China, now is the time to think seriously about working together with Chinese companies in everything from development to product design.”However, many Japanese companies are hesitant about entering joint ventures with China because they feel their technology will be stolen.Many Japanese companies have also taken steps against head hunters.To prevent their engineers from going to South Korea or China over the weekend to provide technical assistance as part-time work, some companies hold on to the passports of all their engineers.Other companies have videotaped the boarding gates at airports over the weekend and then asked those in charge of various departments to check to see if any subordinates appear on the tapes.However, in recent years, with more companies unable to raise salaries amid measures to hold down personnel expenses, some companies allow their employees to moonlight.”There is no way we can stop those who leave the company from finding new jobs,” a senior official at a major electrical equipment company said.Keiji Tamura, 85, has been involved in providing technological assistance overseas in the manufacturing sector for many years.However, he is now worried.
“While I am asked by Chinese companies to provide technological guidance, there are an increasing number of cases that can lead to the leaking of technology,” Tamura said.He is particularly knowledgeable about metal casting. Tamura heads the International Cooperation Center of Senior Manufacturing Experts, which has about 110 former engineers as members. They have been sent to Asia and Africa to provide technological guidance.Tamura’s concerns are mainly about technological cooperation with Chinese companies.About one-third of the world’s metal casting products come from China. If Chinese companies continue to increase their share of the market, Tamura fears that Japanese companies will be unable to procure the parts they need at the prices they are willing to pay.”Even if I provide technological guidance, in the case of China, the companies could end up selling only in China and the business would not flow back to Japan,” Tamura said. “Unless Japan fosters more local companies in Southeast Asia, it could face problems procuring parts from overseas suppliers.”At the same time, Japanese companies seeking to move into the global market are teaming up with Chinese companies using the provision of technology as a tool in the partnership.A prime example is Daikin Industries Ltd., Japan’s largest manufacturer of air conditioners. In spring 2008, it entered a full partnership with Gree Electric Appliances Inc., China’s largest air conditioner manufacturer.Daikin provided the inverter technology that conserves energy while automatically adjusting the temperature released by the air conditioner. Gree Electric provided methods for cheaply producing the air conditioners.Takayuki Sugimoto, 59, is now the Daikin official in charge of the joint venture.”If we use the metal molds of Gree Electric, the costs can be held to under half of what it would be in Japan,” Sugimoto said. “We were struggling to make profits domestically, but we have been able to record profits in no time (after the partnership). I cannot believe it.”However, three years ago when Sugimoto was still in charge of product development at Daikin’s Shiga plant, which manufactured air conditioners, he strenuously opposed the plan of company Chairman Noriyuki Inoue to negotiate a partnership.Inoue yelled at Sugimoto, “Why don’t you quit?”While China has a huge market, most of the air conditioners sold are cheap, non-inverter types.The high-end air conditioners of Japanese companies had difficulties making inroads.Inoue looked at China as a step for global prominence.”If we bring Gree Electric in as a partner and teach them our technology, inverter air conditioners would move into the mainstream in China and other emerging economies, and it would become the global standard,” Inoue said.At the same time, Daikin is careful about not providing all of its technology, even to a partner.Although Gree Electric asked for the control software, Daikin only agreed to provide the technological information in a “black box” form.There is also a tug of war over metal mold technology at the joint venture plant. Gree Electric is asking for an early start to production of high-end molds using Daikin’s technology.However, a Daikin official said, “The important thing is to get production of general-use metal molds on a smooth course.”Inoue insists the company will not change its plans even after the diplomatic spat over the Senkaku Islands.
“We will have to teach our technology after determining the limits that would be safe, based on the market and the progress in the technology held by our partner in China,” Inoue said. “Even if we did not provide the technology, if some other company did, we would fall behind. China is a case where the risk of not providing the technology is much greater than the risk of providing that technology.”

(This article was written by Yasuyuki Nishii and Jun Wakamatsu.)

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VSMPO-Avisma is tightening control over the manufacturer of the master alloy for titanium alloys (US)

Category : Strategy

Ouralredmet (Credit Photo @ ApiUral)

(Fr)

La Corporation “VSMPO-Avisma” envisage d’augmenter son paquet d’actions de l’OAO “Ouralredmet” jusqu’au paquet bloquant. Une fois qu’elle aura bientôt acquis 7% des actions, la corporation en possédera 25,98%.L’OAO “Ouralredmet” est située aux alentours d’Ekaterinbourg. L’entreprise produit principalement des ligatures à base de vanadium pour les alliages de titane. “Ouralredmet” entre dans la liste officielle des fournisseurs des compagnies “General Electric” et “Timet”. Actuellement 95% de sa production est livrée à “VSMPO-Avisma”.Comme la corporation l’a indiqué à “RusBuzinessNews”, “VSMPO-Avisma” a fermé sa propre production de ligatures pour se faire livrer par “Ouralredmet” pour des raisons de logique économique. Afin d’avoir un contrôle direct sur la qualité des ligatures acquises auprès de cette entreprise, la Direction de la corporation a pris la décision de racheter le paquet d’actions bloquant de la S.A.”Ouralredmet” et de faire entrer ses représentants au sein du Conseil d’administration de l’entreprise.En septembre 2010, “VSMPO-Avisma” avait racheté 18,98% des actions d'”Ouralredmet” à la société “Romtex Co Limited”. Les experts ont estimé ce paquet à 5,4 millions de dollars.

(US)

The VSMPO-Avisma Corporation JSC is planning to increase its existing stock of Uralredmet JSC shares to the blocking shareholding. After purchasing of 7% shares in the near future, the corporation will own 25.98 % of shares.Uralredmet JSC is located in Ekaterinburg suburbs. The core product of the company is vanadium-based master alloy for titanium alloys. Uralredmet has been included in the list of established suppliers of General Electric and Timet. At present, 95% of the products are supplied to VSMPO-Avisma.As the representatives of the corporation informed “RusBusinessNews”, VSMPO-Avisma has closed down its own production of master alloys and switched over to supplies from Uralredmet for the reasons of economic feasibility. To be able to monitor the quality of purchased master alloys, the corporation executives made a decision to buy out the blocking stake of Uralredmet and have their representative in the Board of Directors of the company.In September 2010, VSMPO-Avisma acquired 18.98% of the Uralredmet shares from Romtex Co Limited. Experts appraised this stake at 5.4 million US dollars.

Source : Rus Business News

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