Croatian Experts to Work on Aluminium Components for BMW

Lauren Simmonds

As Suzana Varosanec/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 31st of August, 2020, when it comes to a large production investment in the total amount of about 600 million kuna, nominated at the end of 2019 for the status of a strategic investment project, the door now is wide open for it and for the included Croatian experts through its recent inclusion on that very list.

As a result, in Croatia, among other things, the relatively rapid start of serial production of the first aluminum products for the German BMW is expected, with Croatian experts on hand to once again show the level of skill that this small country continually produces across all fields.

To be more specific, these are products whose function is to protect the brakes of the cars, and at the same time preparations for the new production programme of the Sibenik-based company Impol – TLM, which is based on a project which envisages investments in increasing production capacity and building a new foundry with a total capacity of 200,000 tonnes.

This is a significant move that will provide a link, according to Tomaz Smolar, the director of the aforementioned Sibenik company, between the historic Dalmatian city of Sibenik and modern products of the new automotive industry.

Preparations for this investment in which Croatian experts will play the main role have been going on for some time now, but this newly acquired strategic status brings with it a significant impetus due to the expected benefit of speeding up the procedures for obtaining all of the necessary permits, as Sibenik Mayor Zeljko Buric stated.

“The only safety valve for the economy is investment in industry, and Sibenik’s local economy is functioning in this ongoing coronavirus-dominated crisis quite well, filling the city budget with a share of 30 percent, while tourism is bringing 17 percent,” added Buric. The investment will amount to about 25 million euros, and a new foundry will be built on the company’s land, on the site of the former electrolysis and in the extension of the existing foundry.

The result of the investment would meet all of the highest environmental standards in accordance with the EU directive, which requires the use of state-of-the-art production equipment in order to minimise the impact on the environment.

“If all of the permits are issued in the expected time, we can expect the completion of the first phase of the investment and the start of production at the end of next year. We’re in an advanced process of preparation and we’re behind the decisions regarding the selection of technology and the order of production equipment, the production of which is also in progress. In that sense, we’re talking about an investment that has started, although we have been waiting for a long time for an environmental and construction permit,” said Smolar, adding that they hope that the inclusion of their project on the list of strategic investments will be very helpful.

In order to increase the production capacity of aluminum products, as well as to start the operation of the new foundry, four phases are planned in order to achieve the stated capacities of aluminum blocks. They’ll build them for their own needs because Impol-TLM will use them.

Namely, after the closure of Mostar’s Aluminij, the purchase of such blocks is carried out on foreign markets, so it would cease to be a net importer, while it would gain advantages in terms of flexibility and quality of the products themselves. The concept is designed so that investments in the first two foundry lines with a capacity of 50,000 tonnes each (the value of investment in the first line is 25 million euros, and 20 million euros is the price tag attached to the second), will achieve the filling of the existing capacities and act as compensation for the imported procurement.

”The second phase is planned for the end of 2022, and further dynamics are included in Impol’s strategic plans until 2030. The third and fourth phases of our strategy envisage investment not only in casting but also in aluminum rolling, which means that investment in rolling capacity amounts to additional 100 million euros.

The first line on which production will start at the end of 2021 will be intended for blocks for the pharmaceutical and food industry here in Croatia. The second line is for the purpose of the automotive industry for which aluminum alloys will be made, also for the transport industry. We’ve already signed a contract and received a nomination for the production of brake protection products for BMW, the delivery of which will start in 2022,” noted Smolar.

Although the ongoing coronavirus crisis didn’t simply bass the company or its team of Croatian experts by, the Impol Group didn’t lay off any employees at any of their locations this year. A good mix of products is crucial for coping well with the crisis, which is why their workload hasn’t decreased by more than 10 percent. The same applies to the situation with the company’s actual factory. The packaging sector, as well as the pharmaceutical and food sectors, are stable sectors, they claim, as well as other consumer products, which is why Impol maintains a solid level of production when compared to European competitors who have recorded worrying rates of decline.

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