Jesenice, 24 September 2019 – The industrial production of steel in what is now Slovenia began with the merging of ironworks 150 years ago, and today it is a key economic activity in the Republic of Slovenia. This important milestone in steel production heritage was celebrated at the festive event "The Steel Tradition in Tune", which was also attended by Mr. Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, and Mr. Zoran Poznič, Minister of Culture.
The founding in September 1869 of the Carniolan Industrial Company (KID), the predecessor of Železarna Jesenica and later the Slovenian Steel Group – SIJ Group, paved the way for the industrialisation of the bygone ironmongery industry, and its transformation into present-day Slovenian steel-production. By combining the iron-foundries, industrial steel production in Slovenia was brought to life and had a major impact on people’s lives. By implementing modern technologies and fostering innovation, it put Slovenian steel-production front and centre on the world stage, and through its numerous investments, put the Slovenian Steel Group of today at the top table of steel producers in the EU’s niche steel markets.
An important milestone was reached at the "Steel Tradition in Tune" event, which was also attended by Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, and Zoran Poznič, the Minister of Culture.
“The significance of the metal-treatment industry for the Republic of Slovenia, an industry the includes metallurgy, is today best illustrated by the fact that it accounts for 8.2 percent of GDP and employs one in ten Slovenians. The SIJ Group is the largest Slovenian vertically-integrated metallurgical group and is a pillar of the steel-production industry in Slovenia.” Speaking at this milestone event, Minister Počivalšek noted that the SIJ Group's stability and national significance is underpinned by a rich steel-production heritage.
The Slovenian Steel Group – SIJ Group is proud to be a part of an industry with such a long history and distinguished tradition that has been passed down through the generations. As they say, their work is never done because they are part of an endless process of industry development and exploring new frontiers, “Today, the SIJ Group is turning a new page in the history of continuing 150 years of steel-making tradition. We hope that in 150 years, at an event similar to this, the Slovenian Steel Group of 2019 will be described as a forward-looking company with a clearly defined strategy, a leader in niche steel markets, famed for its high level of know-how, abundance of innovation, technological excellence, and skills, complemented by modern business standards and a sustainable approach to production embodying circular economy principles, and a testament to active and effective cooperation with local community,” Tibor Šimonka, a Member of the Management Board of the SIJ Group, pointed out in his address. He also emphasised that 40 percent of the people working in the metal-treatment industry in Slovenia are colleagues of the SIJ Group. Of the three billion Euros of revenue generated by Slovenian metallurgical companies last year, a fourth of that is attributable to the Group. They are exceedingly export-oriented and generate over 80 percent of their sales in foreign markets, that number reaching 85 percent in the SIJ Group. Over the last several years, these companies have ploughed around five percent of their annual revenues into investments. Since the arrival of its current majority owner in 2007, the Slovenian Steel Group has spent over 620 million Euros on modernisation, increasing output, and development.
Commenting on progress, innovation and development, Branko Žerdoner, Managing Director of SIJ Acroni, the largest steel-producing company in the SIJ Group, said: “Thanks to this constant development drive and numerous investments, SIJ Acroni is today a technologically advanced company, and among the top producers of stainless quarto plates in Europe. Over the past decade, a modern continuous casting machine, a new rolling mill, and AOD converter, and a new steel heat treatment line have been installed. This equipment has made it possible for our products to be used in practically all aspects of manufacturing: chemical, oil and gas, ship-building, car manufacturing, and even nuclear industry. All this throughout the four corners of the world. This is also made possible by innovation, closely woven into our corporate culture and the day-to-day activities of each of our employees.”
Technical heritage is a testament to technical progress, “Right here, at the Stara Sava site, where we have gathered today, was the economic centre of the Carniolan Industrial Company, which managed the transition to industrial steel production by combining most of the Upper Carniolan ironworks. Since its inception in 1951, the museum has continually curated the heritage of ironmongery. On this momentous occasion, we are happy to announce that, with the support of the Jesenice municipality, the Bucelleni-Ruard mansion at the Stara Sava will, after 520 years, undergo a thorough reconstruction, and will be converted into an all-Slovenian museum of ironmongers, where tribute will be paid to the significance of iron manufacturing, ironmongery, and steel production. We will revive the roots of our identity, which underlies the successes being enjoyed by Slovenia's steel-production industry,” said Irena Lečen Benedičič, director of the Upper Sava Valley Museum in Jesenice.
The Stara Sava site, where the ceremony took place, is a key location in the history of Slovenian steel production and ironmongery, a cultural monument of national significance, where visitors get to experience, in an authentic setting, the difference between an old ironworks and an industrial plant. The highlight of the celebration was a special performance by the Jesenice-Kranjska Gora brass band, which performed the ironworkers’ anthem. A short film was also produced to commemorate the occasion, where former colleagues, local community representatives, and other partners with close ties to Jesenice’s steel-production industry spoke of the unique bond with the steel workers, which we hope will last another 150 years.
The video is accessible on the SIJ Group’s YouTube channel, entitled Connected we have been progressing, developing and innovating for over 150 years.
The SIJ Group is the largest Slovenian vertically-integrated metallurgical group, and works according to the principles of circular economy, occupying leading market positions in European and global niche steel markets. The SIJ Group is one of Slovenia’s largest exporters and is considered a pillar of employment in Jesenice and Ravne na Koroškem.
According to unaudited business data, the SIJ Group created 417.2 million Euros in revenues in the first half of 2019, 84.4 percent of which came from foreign markets. The achieved EBITDA was 38 million Euros, and the EBITDA margin was 9.1 percent. In the first half of 2019, the SIJ Group created 81.2 million Euros of net profit.
SIJ – Slovenska industrija jekla, d.d.
Mag. Sara Wagner, Head of Corporate Communications
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