Ferrexpo continues to enhance Ukraine's image in the markets of Europe, Asia and the Middle East

For any production facility, product quality is a crucial factor in ensuring competitiveness. The production of high-quality iron ore products for the world’s leading steelmakers around the world is a priority for the Group’s plants. Over the past three years, the company has invested over $2.5 million in quality control system development projects and new laboratory equipment.

International standards in Ferrexpo’s work

At Ferrexpo’s enterprises – Poltava, Yeristov and Bilaniv Minings – the main factor in improving the quality of finished products is working in accordance with international standards ISO 9001, which sets out the requirements for the company’s quality operations, and ISO 17025, which sets out the requirements for testing laboratories that certify products, namely concentrate and high-quality iron ore pellets with an iron content of more than 65%.

Ferrexpo regularly conducts internal and external audits to verify that the quality indicators of the process and finished products meet international standards. For example, in December 2023, the testing center of Poltava Mining, the Group’s main facility, was successfully accredited to confirm the requirements of ISO 17025 for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. The accreditation was carried out by representatives of the National Accreditation Agency of Ukraine (NAAU).

One of Ferrexpo’s practices is to continuously initiate improvements. That is why Ferrexpo’s quality team has started implementing projects to improve the work of the company’s divisions based on modern international regulatory documents. Our primary goal is to minimise risks that could affect quality indicators, automate production, and improve working conditions for our employees. We can say that a significant part of these projects has already been fully implemented. I would like to share several of them.

Already implemented projects to improve quality

The first project is the installation of a complex for sample preparation and determination of the chemical composition of concentrate at crushing-beneficiation plant No. 2 of Poltava Mining. The company commissioned modern X-ray fluorescence equipment that automates sample collection and preparation for various types of chemical analysis of products at all stages of the production process. Every two hours, the equipment provides a result that helps Ferrexpo’s technologists to quickly obtain information on the chemical composition of the concentrate. This speeds up by several times the process of responding to potential situations that could affect quality indicators, and minimises the human factor, improving occupational safety.

The second large-scale project that was successfully implemented was the launch of a complex for sampling concentrate and finished commercial products shipped to consumers. It is worth noting that Ferrexpo was the first company in Ukraine to implement such a project. Modern equipment from leading global manufacturers was installed, which automatically takes samples when iron ore concentrate is loaded into railcars. The sampler then sends them to the laboratory, where experts determine the chemical and physical properties of the concentrate and issue a quality certificate for shipment.

Sampler at the Ferrexpo Poltava Mining

Further plans

Although the full-scale war is making adjustments to the schedule of some large-scale quality improvement projects, Ferrexpo’s overall plans to optimize production processes and its desire to remain among the world leaders in the mining and metals sector are no less ambitious.

We aim to complete a number of additional quality management projects.  One of the initiatives is the installation of a sampling tower to ensure incoming control of ore fed to our crushing and processing plants. The equipment will help to quickly adjust the production processes and thus significantly affect the stability of the quality indicators obtained in finished products. Construction and installation works at several sites are currently being completed as part of this project.

The next initiative is the construction of a single laboratory for determining the quality of geological samples from all three of the Group’s facilities in Ukraine. This laboratory will allow Ferrexpo to have operational data to plan the quality of ore supplied to produce the pellets required by customers with the quality requirements stated in advance. The design and estimate documentation for the construction and equipment of this laboratory has already been finalized.

We have also developed a project to improve the system for selecting finished products – iron ore pellets – for shipment to consumers. It is planned that the complex will be fully automated: from sampling and delivery to the laboratory to further determining the physical properties of the pellets.

Ferrexpo continues to enhance Ukraine’s image in the markets of Europe, Asia and the Middle East

Working on product quality is an ongoing process that is the focus of attention at all levels of the Group’s management. Laboratory technicians and controllers at Ferrexpo’s facilities are constantly improving their skills and qualifications by cooperating with leading Ukrainian research institutes and companies and European experts, and regularly participating in professional trainings. Last year, we also initiated similar training for technologists and production workers. We have noticed that this is an effective practice of deepening cross-functional interaction and updating the knowledge of all participants in the production process. And most importantly, our and foreign specialists speak the same technical language.

All of these initiatives together ensure that the iron ore pellets and concentrate produced by Ferrexpo’s facilities meet all the requirements of international regulations, which is confirmed and highly appreciated by our customers.

By investing millions of US dollars in quality, we not only increase customer loyalty but also continue to attract foreign currency earnings to Ukraine. Ferrexpo is demonstrating to the world that companies with Ukrainian assets can be reliable partners in the production of high-quality low-carbon steel. This significantly enhances Ukraine’s image in the markets of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.