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#DigitalDialogue with Augenijia Di Bucci from Satka Alloys Trading SA

SATKA Group is the largest High Carbon Ferromanganese producer in Russia.

Interviews

Augenija, tell us please how have you got into the metals and mining industry?

The metals and mining industry for long has been perceived as a dirty and unattractive field, however, there are plenty of options for every background, skill, and interest but demands dedication, willingness to grow and challenge yourself. I think this is what led me to this industry – a good combination of challenges and opportunities. I started from a logistics background and grew into sales and marketing – there is a large platform to cooperate on value-creating opportunities with leaders across the whole supply chain in the metallurgical industry.

Satka is an old and well-known name in the manganese industry. What are the current company’s market positions?

Indeed, the Satka name stands for a long history in metallurgy, starting with Pig Iron production in 1759 at Satka and converting into high carbon ferromanganese (HCFeMn) production from 2002. The Group today has two production sites in Russia: SChPZ - Satka Metallurgical Plant located in Satka and KGIW – Kosaya Gora Iron Works in Tula; plus, one production site in Ukraine: Kramfer in Kramatorsk. The HCFeMn produced at Satka Group’s operations is consumed by leading steel producing companies globally: in Russia, Eastern Europe and Middle East countries, America and the best high-end quality steel producers in Western Europe, Scandinavia. The group’s leaders entrepreneurial, innovative and strategic approach coupled with sustainable and personalised engagement, which makes Satka a reliable and sustainable partner to our customers, suppliers and business partners.

Satka completed the acquisition of Russia's second-largest ferromanganese producer, Kosaya Gora. What is the production and sales policy of the new company planned on the regional and global markets? Does it make adjustments to the company's current business processes?

Integration into the Group of a well-established HCFeMn and Pig Iron production site brings many new opportunities for the group and the manganese industry. There are numerous Synergies such as blast furnace technology know-how and modernisation initiatives, the supply chain for raw materials and produce distribution, streamline of CAPEX allocations, flexibility to produce either PI or HC and respond to market developments - just to mention a few. Satka has long term partnerships with suppliers and customers sharing the same appreciation for long term relationships and will continue supporting our business partners with existing commitments as well as structuring new ones.

The new Satka holding has a nominal capacity, placing it among the top five ferromanganese producers and the only one of these top five that has no affiliated sources of manganese ore. What can you say about Satka's vertical integration strategy for the next years?

Fair to say that different schools will have different, not less respected, views on any business growth direction: vertically on horizontally, or combination. Satka’s strategy is centred on sustainably running production sites, applying acquired expertise and relentlessly looking for innovative ways to optimise processes, reduce wastes and costs. A personalised and solution-oriented approach with customers is equally present in relationship with suppliers and ensures long term supply arrangements for a large share of the Group’s raw material requirements.

As for ore, what can you say about the current pricing system in the world market, when the cost of raw materials for global producers in Ukraine, Russia, Europe or India is determined by the only, albeit the largest, consumer - China? Do you see opportunities for more transparency in the Mn ore market soon?

With over 70pct of Mn Ore supply share heading towards China, it leads the market into pricing a structure of "one size fits all", where size seems to fit buyers and technology in China, but not so much in other regions. Similarly, a single departure point dominates pricing structure standing as representative for global, with divers complexity & metallurgical value, manganese ore producers. A constructive and open dialogue for assessment of representative pricing structure of all manganese ore market participants, as producers as receivers, is a necessity, not a "nice to have". I would like to see the price structure evolve in parallel with connection to a digital platform, as some other bulk commodities have successfully trialled and continue improving it. One could anticipate an organic shift in pricing in the not-too-distant future when the trend of relocating production into the periphery of China (in an attempt to deal with internal challenges on climate, energy restrictions, etc.) will increase weightage on more diverse destinations. However, nothing is preventing such dialogues between buyers and sellers already today, a dialogue leading to a more representative pricing structure, overcoming challenges and collaborating on value-creating opportunities.

Do you see the driving force of digitalisation for the metals markets? To what extent does Satka Alloys support the new digital initiatives in the metals industry?

When talking about digitalisation for enabling or improving processes by leveraging digital technologies and digitised data I think there is a lot of room for improvement, in this industry, and Satka Group. Personally, I am very keen to see more dynamic flows in the metals industry, be it for digital trade platforms or transactions execution involving several key parties: suppliers, buyers, shippers, banks. It is great to see that the Metalshub platform is growing successfully and we look forward to continued mutual support from you as a digital marketplace and from us to establish ourselves as a high & consistent quality HCFeMn producer.

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