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For smooth functioning of blast furnaces, Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) has undertaken innovative systems improvement to maximise despatch of slag as evacuation of around one lakh tonne of this by-product per month had become a major challenge. The thrust is on tapping distant slag markets and with the improved logistics in place, e-auction of BFG Slag (Blast Furnace Granulated Slag) was restarted in the last week of April 2017, while rake despatch of slag has already started, RSP said in a statement today. BF Slag is a by-product generated during Hot Metal production from the blast furnaces. Evacuation of this huge quantity of around one lakh tonne per month of slag, is of prime importance for smooth functioning of blast furnaces since the available storage space for slag is limited, it said. Accumulation of slag even for 7-10 days results in a critical situation jeopardising the BF operation itself. To overcome the challenge, RSP's CEO Ashwini Kumar decided to improve the rail logistics for slag despatch in order to come out of the local market compulsions and tap the distant slag markets, it said. The task was entrusted to Projects and Blast Furnace team and the job was started in December 2016. Execution of this project was a bit tedious as it had to be done with the blast furnaces in full production. However, the scheme could be made operational in the first week of May 2017. As regards rake availability, the matter has been taken up with the senior most officials of the railways by the CEO himself. As consistent evacuation of slag is of paramount priority for any blast furnace operator, the new system of despatch is likely to be under observation for three months or so before a final view is taken on future course of action. Granulated Slag, primarily an input raw material for cement industry, can be evacuated both by road and rail. Local consumers may take slag by both modes but distant consumers prefer rail transport due to its commercial viability. Noting that in RSP slag evacuation had become a big issue in 2015, the release said there was a huge accumulation of slag in the plant. The slag conveying system of BF-V was submerged in slag and its structure got damaged at various places.
Slag had to be transported to distant vacant spaces to keep the BF-V running. In BF-IV also there was a huge accumulation of slag, it said. The total accumulation of slag reached alarming levels of around five lakh tonne. RSP had to incur considerable cost in loading, transportation and unloading of slag and also in the repair of damaged structures, it said. Various attempts to sell slag through e-auction did not yield the desired result. This was primarily due to the demand and supply gap in the vicinity. Many new blast furnaces had come up in the area but the number of customers more or less remained the same. The prices kept on falling since there was more supply than demand, the release said. In view of the condition, RSP had to resort to open sale at listed price with volume based discount for ensured and faster evacuation of slag. It is worth mentioning that the price thus fixed was still much higher than the selling price of most of the other producers in the region. The same trend continued till the last open sale in April 2017, it said. It may be noted that the slag could have been sold to distant consumers but RSP had poor logistics for rail despatches which did not permit despatch of more than 5-6 rakes per month on an average.
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