Blasting abrasive business - quo vadis?
From the Rhine-Ruhr-Express trains to a South Korean shipyard: Customers from all over the world rely on ASILIKOS, AFESIKOS and ASILIT. Quality coupled with efficiency means that the STEAG Power Minerals blasting abrasives are in increasing demand.
High-quality, valued products
As purely mineral products with small amounts of free silica, the disposable blasting abrasives from the STEAG Power Minerals blasting abrasives plant in Lünen are not only particularly environmentally friendly, but also ideal for use on various surfaces. They have enjoyed a continuous increase in popularity in recent years, as their grain size can be set precisely, depending on requirements, between 0.04 and 3 millimeters, which means they can be tailor-made for any application. The plant in Lünen, which remains one of the most modern of its kind, can produce around 145,000 metric tons per year.
Record year for Lünen
"2018 was an absolute record year, our blasting abrasive production in Lünen was working to full capacity," Marcus Klenke, Head of Business Line Abrasives, remarks in summing up the situation. Besides the popularity of the products among existing customers, various developments in the market have also contributed to this: In recent years, for example, some competitors have either had to shut down their coal slag-based production or switch to other raw materials. "At times, demand unexpectedly shot up to such an extent that in spite of our production running at full speed, we had a struggle keeping up with requests", Marcus Klenke points out.
"We currently have enough raw material in stock to produce blasting abrasives until at least 2023."
Marcus Klenke, Head of Business Line Abrasives
Securing raw materials in the medium term ...
And what if, in the course of protecting the environment, the raw materials from the (German) coal-fired power plants become fewer and fewer, and disappear entirely in the foreseeable future? For several years now, STEAG Power Minerals has been preparing itself consistently and with foresight for the scenario sketched out by the recommendations of the the Commission on "Growth, Structural Change and Employment". In a first step, for instance, STEAG Power Minerals has secured the availability of existing coal slag sources in Germany. At present, the company can still rely on significant quantities of "fresh" slag from two German coal-fired power plants; STEAG Power Minerals has signed an exclusive contract for the bulk of this for the coming years. In addition, every ton not needed for production over the past years has been kept in stock. This means that sufficient quantities are currently available on call for the production of blasting abrasives until at least 2023.
"After almost 10 years of intensive searching, we have now found a raw material that we rate as being an adequate successor to coal slag."
Marco David, Deputy Head of Sales
... and in the long run
And STEAG Power Minerals has also now come up with an answer regarding the raw material of the future: "After almost 10 years of intensive searching, we have now found a raw material that we rate as being an adequate successor to coal slag," Marco David, Deputy Head of Sales, can report. The supply contracts were signed at the beginning of the year.
Over the coming years, the company will invest substantially to ensure a smooth transition to the new raw material. "Blasting abrasive production in Lünen will continue undiminished during the changeover," Marcus Klenke confirms. The concentration of production and sales inLünen which took place in mid-2018 (detailed report in the Winter 2018 edition of SEGMENT), will ultimately provide for smooth, optimized logistics.
Look forward to finding out in the forthcoming issues of SEGMENT which raw material STEAG Power Minerals will be relying on for future blasting abrasive production and which products will result from it. We'll only say this much here: If you find ASILIKOS a convincing product, you can look forward to the new generation of disposable blasting abrasives - environmentally friendly and with excellent performance.