While a number of major projects were carried out in the past few years, lifting the voestalpine Group’s investment volume significantly over the long-established average, its investment expenditure has dropped significantly in the first half of 2017/18. At EUR 337.9 million, it was 28.2% lower than the previous year’s figure of EUR 470.8 million and thus also slightly lower than the depreciation level in the current year. This development also makes clear that the Group succeeded in starting up a multitude of state-of-the-art facilities just in time before the economic upswing in Europe.
In the Steel Division, investment expenditures fell by 60.2% from EUR 229.0 million in the previous year to EUR 91.2 million this year. The division’s currently largest project—the construction of continuous casting plant 8 in Linz, Austria—has already reached an advanced stage. Individual components have already been tested successfully, which means that the entire facility will probably be started up before the end of the fourth quarter of 2017/18. However, the first half of 2017/18 also saw preparations for the general overhaul of blast furnace A, which is slated to take place over a period of 100 days in the summer of 2018. The process to create the required pre-materials inventories (slabs) for the downstream rolling facilities has already begun in order to ensure that customers are supplied with highest-quality steel strip as usual during this phase as well.
At EUR 71.4 million, the investment expenditure of the High Performance Metals Division in the first half of 2017/18 was 35.5% higher than in the same period of the previous year (EUR 52.7 million). Among other things, the division just launched the world’s largest vacuum hardening furnace in Shanghai, China, where structural parts for lightweight automotive construction are heat treated, in order to be able to respond adequately to the trend toward ever larger compression molding forms. By installing additional printing systems for the additive manufacturing business segment in both Taipei, Taiwan, and Toronto, Canada, the division is pushing this cutting-edge technology not just in Europe but also in Asia and North America. The decision was made at the end of September 2017 to build a brand-new special steel plant in Kapfenberg, Austria, as a replacement for the existing facility. Construction is slated to begin in 2018 and the facility, which will be the most advanced of its kind the world over, is to be brought online in 2021. The preliminary investment will be EUR 330 million to EUR 350 million.
In the Metal Engineering Division, investments during the first six months of 2017/18 were EUR 64.9 million and thus 18.5% higher than the figure for the same period of the previous year (EUR 79.6 million). The fully digitalized, new wire rod mill in Leoben/Donawitz, Austria, which was opened at the end of September 2017, was the division’s most prestigious project in the past three years. It was built with an investment of EUR 140 million and is a global technological benchmark. The recent tender award for the construction of continuous casting plant 4 at the same location will make it possible to provide high-quality supplies to the division’s units for further processing in the future, too. This investment project of the Metal Engineering Division, which is currently its most extensive, should be completed in the spring of 2019.
Compared with EUR 106.5 million in the same period of the previous year, the investment volume (EUR 104.4 million) of the Metal Forming Division in the first half of 2017/18 is stable. The division’s focus on the worldwide roll-out of key technologies for high-strength automotive components is unchanged. As a result, two additional phs-ultraform® and/or phs-directform® facilities went into operation in Cartersville, GA, USA, in the summer of this year. Investments are currently being made in assembly plants in Aguascalientes, Mexico, with the aim of promoting the dynamic development of the Mexican automotive market. Another assembly plant that is being built concurrently in Tianjin, China, will also serve to supply international automotive customers.