The Russian-owned steelmaker NLMK has announced an $80 million project to build a new furnace at its operations in Farrell, Pennsylvania.

NLMK Group, an international steel producer with operations in Russia, Europe and the USA, has signed an agreement for the purchase of equipment for the construction of a new walking-beam reheating furnace to streamline the slab heating process at the Farrell plant.

The new furnace will replace 3 outdated furnaces currently operating at the facility, according to a statement from NLMK.

The reheating furnace, which will have a capacity of 395 tons per hour or around 1.7 million tons per year, pre-heats steel slabs prior to further rolling at the hot strip mill.

NLMK says the project will significantly increase the quality of finished steel products due to the transition to a more advanced technology. It will also enable lower energy consumption and minimize environmental impact.

The project also includes the construction of a warehouse for steel slabs.

“The construction of the new furnace is a major project for NLMK Pennsylvania aimed to bolster the market presence of the company,” said NLMK USA CEO, Bob Miller. “It will improve the quality of hot-rolled steel by eliminating slab surface defects, which are characteristic of pusher-type furnaces. In addition there will be an approximate 45% decrease in natural gas consumption as well as a reduced emission rate”.

Construction and installation works are planned for next fall and the furnace is to become operational in 2018.

Installation of the new equipment will not impact the facility’s production plan, according to NLMK.

Just last week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf  announced a $1 million dollar grant to upgrade NLMK's 13-mile rail network to replace locomotives and make loading dock improvements. 

NLMK Pennsylvania is the biggest plant in the company's U.S. division, employing 700 people.  The plant produces carbon and alloyed steel, including hot-rolled, cold-rolled and full hard steel. The facility has a production capacity of 1.7 million tons of hot-rolled steel per year.

Sharon Coating, located nearby, uses NLMK Pennsylvania's rolled steel to produce a range of hot-dip galvanized steels that includes extra-deep drawing, high-strength, and dual phase steels.

NLMK Pennsylvania steel is used in machine building, railway equipment and pipe manufacturing and the mining, energy and space industries, and service centers.