UC Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer, announced the start of the casting facilities upgrade program on the Novokuznetsk aluminum smelter (NkAZ), which will increase value-added production (VAP) output. Program CAPEX is expected to amount to more than RUR170 million ($5.2 million). NkAZ Casthouse No. 2 has been completed ahead of the scheduled testing of the casing equipment supplied by Wagstaff, which will significantly enhance the 6xxx series billets product range. New casting equipment has already been calibrated by Wagstaff and Hertwich Engineering representatives and tested for 127 mm and 152 mm billet casting and soaking. It is the first time the Rusal smelter will produce 127 mm billets, which will play a major role in the NkAZ expansion to the fast-growing markets of Southeast Asia.

NkAZ continues to develop new alloy production. The smelter has successfully tested production of three new automotive alloys for piston blocks that are tailored for Russian carmakers GAZ and KAMAZ. Trial lots have already been supplied to customers for qualification.

The upgrade will also increase the smelter’s production output to 286,000 metric tons (mt) in 2012. In 2013, the upgrade will continue, in particular there are reconstruction plans for foundry alloys production line, which will increase production by 18,000 mt/y and will significantly cut costs.