This report is a translation of the original report in German, which is solely valid.
Following three years of reduced investing activity, the voestalpine Group intends to boost its investments in property, plant, and equipment; intangible assets; and equity interests during the current business year 2022/23. Besides major trailblazing projects, the program encompasses investments required for replacement purposes as well as for initial steps related to the decarbonization of voestalpine’s steel plants in Linz and Donawitz, Austria. On the whole, during the business year’s first half the voestalpine Group boosted investments by 37.0% year over year to EUR 327.8 million (H1 2021/22: EUR 239.2 million).
In the reporting period, the Steel Division increased its investments by 93.2% to EUR 147.6 million (H1 2021/22: EUR 76.4 million). A project currently being implemented in the rolling segment aims to continue enhancing product quality: a fully automated pickling line with tandem cold mill (“Beta 3”) is being built to this end and integrated into the existing cold rolling mill. Following the groundbreaking ceremony in October 2021, both the construction of the factory building and the foundation work were completed during the first six months of the current business year. The new pickling line will enable better processing of higher tensile strength steel strip. Once it has been commissioned, it will support the expansion of high and highest tensile steels and electrical steel strip. This cutting-edge facility with a planned annual capacity of two million tons is slated to be completed by the end of calendar year 2023. Substantial investments in the hot-dip galvanizing lines will also serve to boost volume in the ultra-high tensile segment—with a focus on the redesign of hot-dip galvanizing line 4 at the Linz plant. Orders for numerous new plant components for the existing facility have already been placed. Given shifts in the product mix, the remaining hot-dip galvanizing lines will also be optimized in the coming years. The first steps in the transformation of steel production toward climate neutrality were taken in the reporting period. This includes clearance activities as well as the construction of the infrastructure required for supplying raw materials and energy to the first electric furnace at the Linz facility, which is slated to commence operations in calendar year 2027.
In the first half of the business year 2022/23, the High Performance Metals Division reduced its investments by 11.5% year over year to EUR 68.0 million (H1 2021/22: EUR 76.8 million). The new special steel plant in Kapfenberg, Austria, was completed during the current business year. This plant is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and enables a very high degree of process automation thanks to fully digital machinery. It also sets new sustainability standards in that the plans call for releasing the heat from the smelters to the district heating system. Cooling is achieved via a closed cycle, and energy requirements can be dramatically reduced thanks to the facility’s efficiency. Individual components of the plant were already tested as to their functionality using a so-called cold testing phase in the business year 2021/22. The integrated cold commissioning, which serves to test the interactions of a range of aggregates, will be carried out first in the current business year. This will be followed by the first smelting tests and then the start of the process of certifying the product range on the new equipment. A transition phase during which both the new and the old special steel plants in Kapfenberg will be operated simultaneously is planned to this end.
The EUR 48.2 million investment expenditure of the Metal Engineering Division in the first half of the business year 2022/23 exceeded the previous business year’s level by 27.9% (H1 2021/22: EUR 37.7 million). The interim repairs of one of the two blast furnaces in Donawitz constituted the division’s most significant investments during the reporting period. Following a roughly two-month relining phase, blast furnace 1 was restarted at the end of September 2022 as planned together with a new hot-blast stove. Key steps were also taken as part of the planned transformation toward climate neutral steel production in Donawitz. For example, the facility’s preproject, which entails the construction of an electric arc furnace including the requisite energy supply, has already reached a very advanced stage and will probably be completed toward the end of calendar year 2022.
The EUR 52.3 million investment volume of the Metal Forming Division in the first half of the business year 2022/23 was 22.5% higher year over year (H1 2021/22: EUR 42.7 million). The most comprehensive project in the Automotive Components business segment currently concerns the construction of what is already the fifth phs facility for forming press-hardened steel in Shenyang, China. This investment, which largely completes the plant’s expansion, will help key customers in the automotive industry achieve their international growth by providing them with high quality automotive components once the plant has been commissioned. The Tubes & Sections business segment also pursued expansion activities during the first half of the business year 2022/23. New customer projects made it necessary to expand the segment’s production capacity in Sroda Slaska, Poland, so that it can manufacture tube components for the global automotive supplier industry. Tubes & Sections invested in tube and roll forming facilities at other international facilities for products manufactured to customer specification.