Conference: Rail deliveries of mining and smelting cargoes

Date: October 01–02, 2020

XI conference “Rail deliveries of mining and smelting cargoes” completes its work in Moscow

The XI conference «Railway deliveries of mining and smelting cargoes» has finished its work in Moscow. The event was held in full-time mode in strict compliance with all the rules and regulations prescribed by the Russian government due to the pandemic situation.

The conference audience actively participated in the discussion on crucial problems caused by the crisis in the mining and metallurgical industry, the decline in production and limited transportation. Speakers noted that coal, oil and petroleum products were the leaders in terms of losses in loading. Scrap transportation has also been threatened by the closure of many businesses during the pandemic.

At the same time, analysts highlighted a surplus of freight cars at the present time, which, according to some estimates, amounted to 30-50%. Some experts attributed this to higher rates and «lack of prospects in the industry.» The excess rolling stock capacity was indicated by representatives of SUEK, IPEM and PGK. The representative of Russia’s energy ministry also drew attention to the problems of development of Russia’s Eastern polygon, complaining about the lag of Russian Railways in the implementation of some programs. Moreover, market participants pointed to the high cost of domestic transportation, which exceeds the cost of export deliveries.

A special focus at the event was made on the development of the coal sector. A wide range of specialists participated in the discussion: from manufacturers, rolling stock operators to consumers. Analysis of the situation revealed real problems with the decline in production. EVRAZ explained this by saying that «many coal companies postpone investment programs for a year» due to uncertainty in the industry. The discussion touched upon issues related to the future of the industry: whether coal generation will decrease, how it will affect transportation. «The coal market does not yet believe in scenarios for a rapid transition to carbon-neutral energy. The input data for these scenarios do not look realistic, except that COVID-19 has made its own adjustments,» the UMMC expert believes. In turn, EVRAZ is confident that with the availability of infrastructure, «coal will always find its niche in Russia». And NLMK proposes to use containers for transportation of coal. Comments were made by the experts of the Kuzbass fuel company and Eurosib SPb-TS.

The session devoted to optimization of supply of metallurgical products issues was no less intense. More and more often there were calls to find alternative ways to sell metallurgical products, search for customers, in particular, examples of successful global electronic retailers such as Amazon and Alibaba were cited. Experts from OMK, FESCO, and SGMK-trade who participated in the discussion spoke about the growing containerization and use of truck transport.

The discussion on transport infrastructure could hardly avoid port logistics problems in Russia. A representative of Morstroytechnology at the conference gave a detailed analysis of the port infrastructure prospects in the medium and long term. The topic was continued by a representative of IERT with an assessment of port expansion plans and their coordination with the plans of Russian Railways to increase the capacity of ports-access rail routes. O top manager of Rosterminalugol presented the company’s vision for the development of a separate terminal designed for coal transshipment.

Traditionally, the final chord of the conference was a discussion about the problems of car builders. The position of the leading factories was presented by the largest car manufacturer: Altayvagon. All speakers spoke about the difficulties associated with the production of components, new specialized cars, requirements for the repair and operation of rolling stock and its quality: Inspection center «Acceptance of wagons and components», Novotrans, SUEK, the First industrial operator.

We hope that next year we will be able to meet again and continue our conversation about how the industry has gone through difficult times, what prospects it has for development and what to do so that the «black swans» do not take anyone by surprise.