More than 100 building workers are now on site, a temporary access road has been widened and site offices will soon be ready for use. The excavations for the furnace and main buildings have been started and will soon be followed by work on the foundations. Construction of the steelwork is expected to start in late spring.
"With debt funding now agreed, the project is going ahead according to plan," said Julian Barnes, project director, Russia. "The cold weather has actually been a help since the frozen ground is easier to move and the heavy earth-moving vehicles can operate more effectively in these conditions."
A Contractors Day was held close to the site at the end of January with the intention of finding more local contractors capable of meeting the exacting standards required to be part of the construction activity.
The £112m joint venture project is scheduled to come on stream in 2005 and will have an initial capacity of around 240,000 tonnes per year.