VIDEO: Not quite business as usual at Interpipe’s new steel mill in Ukraine

Interpipe hopes a new culture at its new steel mill in Ukraine will help motivate staff as the plant produces 1.3 million tonnes of round billet annually from 2014.

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A chain-smoking man in his 50s with a technical college diploma has long been a widespread understanding of a common metal industry worker in Ukraine.

A local steel pipe and railway wheel producer Interpipe said, however, that it wanted to go against the stereotypes, when it opened the first steel mill built from scratch in Ukraine, since the Soviet Union collapse, earlier this month.

The average age at the $700 million electric steel mill in Dnepropetrovsk, in south-east Ukraine, is 31 years, and almost 80% of the staff has a university degree. Smoking is strictly prohibited at the plant, and those found doing that get fired immediately.

In order to cement a new production culture with the mill worker at the centre of it, Interpipe has put up several art works at the site, including the installation called ‘Material is Movement’, by the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson..

The installation is a series of circular and elliptical reflective discs, which are meant to simulate the rising sun above the heads of the workers. 

To enter the facility one has to pass through an installation called ‘Your Time Tunnel’, a series of arcs constructed from pipes produced at the factory. 

The mill, which will be making 1.3 million tonnes of round billets annually starting in 2014, will provide 90% of the steel needed for Interpipe’s seamless pipe production and 100% for its railway wheels by 2014.

The company’s head of products and resources Denis Morozov told Steel First, however, the company may find it more profitable to sell the low-alloy steel billets produced at the plant to the third parties, and buy the carbon steel billets for its own use from other steelmakers.

Interpipe is in talks with European wheel-makers to sell them billet from the plant, and is also looking into who among foreign pipe-makers it could approach to sell its material, Morozov said.