TBY talks to two executives in the industry sector on their production selection, environmentally friendly policies, and export markets.
Which of your products are internationally competitive?
FADIL DEMİREL Kardemir is the only rail line producer in Turkey, and among all neighboring countries and the entire Middle East. The Turkish State Railway’s (TCDD’s) rails are all procured from Kardemir, thereby cutting our country’s reliance on imports. Since our first production, we’ve produced 342,000 tons of rail for TCDD, adding €200 million to the Turkish economy. In our rail profile mills we produce between 160 mm and 550 mm profiles, making us the sole producer in Turkey and neighboring countries in certain categories. By producing high value-added products, our aim is to contribute to the Turkish economy.
What are the main strengths of Turkish steel?
NAMIK EKİNCİ We have a large and growing production capacity. We are 10th among the world’s top steel producers and second in Europe. In exports, we hold the seventh position and also became the world leader in the export of reinforcing steel bars. The reason for this success is that we have high-quality products and at the same time can offer very competitive prices, because we’re not looking for high profits.
What are the most attractive export markets for your company?
FD Our target markets are mainly public and private companies in neighboring countries (Syria, Iran, Iraq), North African countries (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco), Balkan countries, and also now the Brazilian market.
NE In three years we will conduct visits to about 30 different countries. Dubai used to be a big importer of Turkish steel, but now with new investments in domestic steel production, demand for Turkish steel has receded and we’ve sought new markets. We’ve made trips to Chile, Peru, and Colombia, and we conducted ministerial-level visits and met with importers there. Now, we’re looking forward to bringing them to Turkey.
After having privatized in 1995, how has Kardemir evolved?
FD After privatization, Kardemir saw rapid growth, having made important investments in innovation, modernization, and other projects, thereby developing its technology base and production capacity. After privatization, Kardemir first built a new steel mill and support energy facilities for the mill, thus changing its steel production process. With this investment, we replaced our Siemens Martin furnaces with Basic Oxygen Converters in 1999. Our annual steel production since privatization went up from 550,000 tons per year to 1 million tons. These new investments have raised our productivity and profit margins.
Total Turkish exports were at $134.6 billion last year. What percentage of that did the iron and steel sector contribute?
NE Of that $134.6 billion figure, 11.5% was comprised of steel exports. The steel industry grew by 24% in 2011 over 2010. This year we’re aiming to reach an export figure of $17.5 billion, maybe more depending on market conditions. We have been working closely with the Ministry of Economy in placing great emphasis on using domestic raw materials, scrap, iron ore, and alloy products as much as possible so as to reduce our dependency on imports.
How much importance does your company place on being environmentally friendly?
FD When producing iron and steel, we carry out improvement work on our existing production facilities, simultaneously carrying out new investments aimed at increasing capacity and product quality. In all projects that aim to increase the performance of our company, we make sure to choose environmentally friendly technologies, and aim to use our resources with as little waste as possible.
NE We show great sensitivity to the environment, especially when it comes to carbon emission rates, we are below the European and world average, and we have made big investments so as to counter noxious and hazardous by-products and waste. Many environmentally aware countries place importance on this, to be sure, but we also place great emphasis on this fact, because we are aware that the environment is important in itself, regardless of its benefits to the steel industry.
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