《中国日报》英文版：Rail wheels put Magang Group on fast track to future development
By ZHU LIXIN and MA CHENGUANG in Ma’anshan, Anhui
As China's iron and steel industry continues to struggle after years of overcapacity, Magang Group sees the manufacturing of train wheels as one of its strengths as the pace of railway construction accelerates.
Established in the 1950s and located in Ma'anshan, a city in Anhui province, the company, also known as Ma Steel, was the birthplace of the first train wheel production line in China in 1964. It enjoys about a 50 percent share of the Chinese rail wheel market and has assets of 88.6 billion yuan ($14.43 billion).
"In addition to overcapacity, homogenization of both business models and products is also a big problem facing the iron and steel industry," said Gao Haijian, president of Ma Steel.
In 2012, Ma Steel signed an agreement with the China Academy of Railway Sciences, the country's top railway research and development body, to import and localize the manufacturing technology for heavyload locomotive wheels and wheels for high-speed trains traveling faster than 250 km/h.
Ma Steel acquired Valdunes, the high-speed train wheels manufacturer based in France, four months ago.
Valdunes, the sole supplier of wheels for TGV high-speed trains, entered a bankruptcy restructuring process on March 31 and was acquired by Ma Steel two months later for 13 million euros ($16.5 million).
The deal, which includes Valdunes' two plants in Dunkerque and Valenciennes, enables 487 employees to be retained.
"With the most advanced technology and broadened sales channels, Ma Steel will be a strong bridgehead for the global development of China's highspeed trains," Gao said.
To better support the research and development of high-speed train wheels and axles, Ma Steel invested 2.2 billion yuan in building an electric arc furnace, instead of the traditional blast furnace. The new facility began operation in 2011 as the first of its kind in China.
"Compared with the blast furnace, the electric arc furnace has lower production costs ... and a significantly lower level of pollution", Gao said.
Wheel manufacturing consumes 2 to 3 percent of Ma Steel's 19 million metric tons of annual steel production.
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