Cuba hoping to expand its iron and steel industries

Cuba intends upgrading its iron, steel and related products industries over the next decade, aiming to grow production up to 2030 through domestic and foreign investment and the use of Cuban raw materials.

Speaking at Cubaindustria 2018, Mario Hernández, the Director of the Business Group of the Iron and Steel Industry (Gesime), told participants that the industry planned to grow production and services by an average of 5% per annum and was preparing to compete in the international market.

He told convention attendees that a review of all branches of Cuba’s metalworking, steelmaking and recycling industries had been undertaken with the aim of identifying financing to modernise obsolete equipment and to upgrade technology. Gesime, he said, has also embarked on a programme of modernising its management systems and technical ability to enable it to produce higher quality products and services for the export and home market.

In his remarks, Hernández indicated that Gesime would be focused particularly on developing export markets in Latin America and the Caribbean with the aim of increasing sales by 2% annually of steel products and their derivatives, as well as recyclable items, machinery, agricultural implements and industrial plant. He said that as a strategic objective the country’s iron and steel industry will be reorganised to meet the quality levels and standards required internationally in all it produces.

In the case of the steel production the Director of Gesime said that it is hoped to modernise the infrastructure of the steel mills located in the provinces of Havana, and Las Tunas in the east so that overall production reaches 325,000 tons a year of billets and 170,000 tons of laminates. Projects related to the production of stainless steel using minerals and nickel-silver tails as raw materials for steel production are also expected to come on stream, Hernández said.

He suggested that post 2025, the country would be able to produce 480,000 tons of billets and 460,000 tons of laminates a year contributing to the diversification of production, cost savings and increasing levels of exports.

In addition, by 2030, the construction of the new steel plant with an annual capacity of 1m tons from iron ore and nickel-containing tails is planned. The production of alloy and stainless steels would also be resumed. Hernández said that a fundamental objective will be to develop a metallised iron industry replacing that presently depending on imported scrap. Hernandez noted also that ‘a contribution’ to the production of alloy and stainless steels would be made from the Cuban iron ores identified for exploitation for iron and steel purposes. It is also intended that there should be a gradual increase in the production of carbon steel laminates to 0.6m tons per year by 2028.

An indispensable element for the realization of plans for the development of the Cuban steel industry, Hernández said, is that state-of-the-art technology is introduced. This meant that Cuba would require the modernisation of electricity powered steelworks using new technology, a modern rolling mill and the introduction of metallurgical aggregates in processes involving the reduction of iron ores. Other plans involve the production of wire rod from national production, the generation of electricity and the production of materials for construction.

In his remarks Hernández observed that to deliver all Gesime’s plans it would be necessary to attract foreign investment. Of the 92 technological development projects and investments required 32 will require foreign investment and eight are intended to be joint ventures. He gave no figures as to the sums required but said that the total capital investment is expected to be mobilised in stages
and indicated that 75% of the financing would be executed by 2025.

Cuban state media reports recently quoted President Diaz-Canel as saying that domestic and foreign investment in replacing old technology has become a necessity. Russia has indicated that it is among those nations interested in possible investments in Cuba’s iron and steel sector.

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