voestalpine completed and advanced important investment projects in the business year 2023/24. One focus was on the implementation of greentec steel, the ambitious and feasible step-by-step plan for green steel production. In a first step, one blast furnace at each of the Linz and Donawitz sites will be replaced by an electric arc furnace (EAF) powered by green electricity. The investment volume amounts to EUR 1.5 billion. The technology switch will enable the Group to reduce its emissions by up to 30% from 2027—this corresponds to a saving of almost four million tons of CO2 per year. This means that domestic CO2 emissions can be reduced by around 5% once the two new electric arc furnaces go into operation in 2027. greentec steel is therefore the largest climate protection program in Austria.

      In the business year 2023/24, voestalpine reached several milestones on the road to green steel production. In the Northern fall of 2023, ground was broken for the construction of the first two electric arc furnaces in Linz and Donawitz. In the reporting period, orders were also placed for the two plants, and construction work at the two sites progressed rapidly.

      voestalpine also completed important investment projects in the business year 2023/24 which will make a significant contribution to its future competitiveness. One milestone was the opening of the world’s most modern special steel plant in Kapfenberg in October 2023. The new plant, which is a global pioneer in terms of digitalization and sustainability, is the first of its kind to be built in Europe in four decades. The pickling tandem line (“Beta 3”) was ramped up in Linz. In addition to these major projects, voestalpine has also invested in the processing areas, including the expansion of capacity at the global sites in the Tubes & Sections and Warehouse & Rack Solutions business units, which are part of the Metal Forming Division.

      In total, the voestalpine Group invested EUR 1,233.0 million in property, plant, and equipment and intangible assets in the business year 2023/24, 33.7% more than in the previous year (EUR 922.0 million).

      The Steel Division made investments of EUR 546.4 million in the 2023/24 business year. Compared to the previous year (EUR 310.0 million), this represents an increase of 76.3%. The Steel Division has made significant progress towards green steel production. For example, progress was made in clearing the construction site and implementing infrastructure measures for greentec steel. These include the relocation of pig iron solidification and residual slag recycling, as well as the adaptation of the scrap yard. In addition, the conveyor belt bridge was built, which will supply the new electric arc furnace in Linz, among others, with raw materials from 2027. CO2-reduced steel from voestalpine was used for this. Austrian Power Grid (APG) has begun construction of the transformer station. In the metallurgy sector, blast furnace 5 (8-meter furnace) was repaired for the last time in the Northern summer/fall 2023 and will be replaced by an electric arc furnace from 2027. Preparations were also made for the repair of blast furnace 6 (8-meter furnace), which will take place in August 2024 and last around three months. In the steelworks, modernization measures in secondary metallurgy and a continuous casting plant were on the agenda. Progress was also made at the company’s own power plant. Here, metallurgical gases from the coking plant, the blast furnace, and the steelworks are converted into electricity. This ensures a high degree of self-sufficiency in electricity at the Linz site. The Steel Division awarded numerous contracts for the new power plant unit 8 in the 2023/24 business year—e.g., for the boiler, the electrical system, and the simulator. The ramp-up of the pickling line in cold rolling mill 3 (“Beta 3”)—one of the Steel Division’s central key facilities—began in the fourth quarter of 2023/24. The process systems were already delivered in the first half of 2023/24. The fully automated pickling tandem line, which meets the highest Industry 4.0 standards, enables a further increase in quality in the production of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels for the automotive, household appliance, and construction industries, as well as electrical steel for e-mobility. BETA 3 also sets new standards in terms of sustainability: instead of using sulphuric acid as before, pickling will in future be carried out with hydrochloric acid, which will be recycled in a closed-loop system using a regeneration plant. The production capacity is approx. 2 million tons per year. Another focus was the modernization of hot-dip galvanizing lines 2 and 4, with the aim of increasing the quantities of ultra-high-strength grades. The work should be largely completed in the 2024/25 business year. The modernization of all hot-dip galvanizing lines is expected to take until calendar year 2027.

      The High Performance Metals Division invested EUR 189.9 million in the 2023/24 business year. Compared to the previous year (EUR 245.6 million), this is a decrease of 22.7%. The most important investment project was the new special steel plant in Kapfenberg. With the official opening in October 2023, voestalpine set a technological milestone in the production of future-oriented high-performance materials for the international automotive, energy, and aerospace industries. In full operation, 205,000 tons of special steels can be produced annually for the most demanding customer segments. In addition to the focus on fully digitalized systems and highly automated processes, the new special steel plant focuses on environmentally friendly and resource-saving steel production. The electric arc furnace—the heart of the plant—will be powered 100% by electricity from renewable energy sources. Commissioning and production of the first product for sale already took place in May 2023. The old and new plants were operated in parallel until the end of the 2023 calendar year. At the beginning of January 2024, 3-shift operation started in the new steel plant, and operations were continuously optimized in the following months. The certification process for the manufacture of products in the new plant—primarily for customers in the aerospace and automotive sectors—was initiated and largely implemented in the 2023/24 business year. The buffer stocks that were built up to supply customers during the certification process have been dismantled since the fourth quarter of 2023/24.

      At the Villares site in Sumaré, Brazil, the High Performance Metals Division expanded the furnace capacity for remelting electrical slag for nickel-based alloys and tool steel. The project was completed at the end of the 2023/24 business year. The engineering for the new vacuum arc remelting plant was carried out in the reporting period. Delivery of the unit and completion are scheduled for the next business year. The Value Added Services business unit relocated the Chinese site of the company Advanced Tooling Tek (Shanghai). The previous location had reached the limits of its capacity. Sales, machining and coating activities in North America were concentrated at the Elgin site in Illinois, USA.

      The Metal Engineering Division’s investment volume amounted to EUR 291.1 million in the 2023/24 business year, up 49.1% on the previous year (EUR 195.2 million). The Metal Engineering Division drove the transformation to green steel production forward. As in Linz, an electric arc furnace (EAF) with an annual capacity of 850,000 tons will be built in Donawitz by 2027 as part of greentec steel. Site clearance for the EAF and the new scrap hall was completed in the 2023/24 business year. This included the demolition of the existing continuous casting plant and the old rail track. In Northern summer 2023, the contract for the electric arc furnace was awarded to the Italian plant manufacturer Danieli & C. Officine Meccaniche S.p.A. The next steps are the construction of the 220 kV connection and the new transformer station by APG. The construction site for this was already prepared during the reporting period. The entire project is on schedule and on budget. In the metallurgy area, flood protection was built at the Donawitz steel site in the 2023/24 business year. Preparations were also made for the planned repair of blast furnace 4, which will take place for the last time in the Northern summer 2024. Blast furnace 4 will be replaced by an electric arc furnace in 2027. The Railway Systems Group carried out numerous measures with manageable investment volumes in the 2023/24 business year. For example, a new production line for railway sleepers was put into operation at Travertec, Romania. In the Industrial Systems business unit, the tubulars product segment successfully modernized the rotary hearth furnace including the chimney at the Kindberg site. The plant was shut down for six weeks in the Northern summer of 2023. At the Kindberg site, investments were made in a new production facility for seamless hollow sections and a profile pipe finishing line including a hall. To this end, equipment including all rights was purchased from a competitor in Germany in the Northern spring. The new infrastructure will enable the tubulars product segment to produce square and rectangular hollow sections for the agricultural machinery and mechanical engineering industries, among others.

      Investments in the Metal Forming Division amounted to EUR 188.2 million in the 2023/24 business year, slightly above the previous year’s figure of EUR 152.9 million. The Automotive Components business unit has completed its capacity expansions for the time being with the enlargement of the site in Shenyang, China. In view of the structural developments in the automotive industry in Germany, and the reorganization of the Automotive Components business unit, investments were moderate overall. The Tubes & Sections business unit expanded its capacities at several locations. In Vyskov, Czech Republic, the production hall was expanded, and investment was made in a new roll forming line. Meincol’s Brazilian site was also expanded. At RFC in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, the business unit consolidated its processing activities in new halls and facilities. voestalpine Profilform, Suzhou, China, invested in facilities for air spring components for the automotive industry. The Warehouse & Rack Solutions business unit recorded a significant increase in business volume and project activity, driven by online trading. This growth made it necessary to expand capacity in the 2023/24 business year. Own production capacities were established in Louisville, USA. In the Northern fall 2023, the business unit ramped up three profiling lines for the production of storage systems.