A year has passed since that morning of February 18, 2021, when the history of steel production in Colombia was split into two parts. That day is when the Ternium Industrial Center in Palmar de Varela officially began its operations and started to write one of the golden pages in the annals of national industry.
That inaugural ribbon cutting was done by the President of the Republic, Iván Duque Márquez; along with the CEO of Ternium, Máximo Vedoya; the president of Ternium International, Héctor Obeso; and the general manager of Ternium Colombia, Sebastián Castro; it was the first step of 365 days full of learning, challenges, and successes within the industrial center in Palmar de Varela.
In that opportunity, during the inauguration ceremony, President Iván Duque Márquez said “the kickstarting of the industrial complex represents the transcendent step for the substitution of the importation of steel products due to the local production which will satisfy the internal demand and generate additional value. This factory within the territory that has been kickstarted represents 30% of the production of steel rods in Colombia. Born in the middle of a pandemic attesting to the resilience and productive capacity of Colombia”.
In the same vein Máximo Vedoya, CEO of Ternium, in his inauguration speech of this industrial center in 2021 stated: “We share the belief with the government that Colombia has the conditions to develop a tight industrial network which generates jobs and a robust value chain which contributes to its sustainable growth in the long term”.
Additionally, he confirms that “this is one of the reasons why we decided to invest in this project. Another of the reasons was contributing to the provision of strategic steel products for the country. The pandemic we are living through proved the importance of being able to guarantee the continuity of sectors as important as those of construction and infrastructure”.
Today the plant is one of the most important industrial developments of the country and the reality that it celebrates its first 365 days of production today one year after its inauguration, directly generating around 300 jobs, 60% of them for people of the area, in a context as complicated as the one during the pandemic.
“Industry is the key for the development of the country. It is a motor of social mobility. Because of that, the industrial complex in Palmar de Varela is one of the solutions generated from the private company to keep believing in Colombia and its people. Today, when we commemorate its first year of operation, more than stopping during the celebration, the most important thing is to go on convinced that the best is yet to come” stated Sebastián Castro, General Manager of Ternium Colombia.
At the end of February 15, 2022, the Palmar the Varela TIC produced 282.000 tons of steel in its first year, including the first 3,5 trial months of the industrial complex, which started in November 2020. We expect that, by the end of the first quarter of 2022, we reach a production of 309.000 tons.
With the increase of its capacity, Ternium will produce 33% of the steel Colombia needs to satisfy the demand of sectors such as constructions and infrastructure. Said volume complements the capacity of the steel sector in the country allowing it to cover 100% of the quantity of the material required to carry out infrastructure works such as the Bogotá Metro, the 4G, and 5G pathways, as well as housing projects. This way, the company seeks to substitute the imports of this product with Colombian technology and manpower.
“The most important thing of this first year are the lessons we have experienced with teamwork along the way, which has helped us achieve production goals and what we outlined from the start. That all this work was done in the middle of a pandemic gives us the lesson that we have complied with all the rules and regulations. Things have gone pretty well for us”, commented Yiceth Castro, Staff Supervisor.
The Ternium plaint in Palmar de Varela, apart from being one of the most important projects of the national industry in the last decades, is a reality today, and a foundational point of support for the communities of Atlántico and the Colombian Caribe region. Moreover, an important referent is the conservation of the environment.
Between the most relevant points of this first year of operations, we point out that all the energy which is used in different processes is 100% renewable. This caused the company to obtain the Green Energy Seal EPM, an important acknowledgment in terms of sustainability. Moreover, its still is 100% renewable and the complex reuses 98% of the water that it uses in its processes.
In support of the community
Without a doubt, another source of pride of the first year of operation of the Ternium plant in Palmar de Varela is becoming a motor of development and an essential pillar of the day-to-day lives of hundreds of people in the communities in the proximity of the industrial complex.
“The most relevant thing is the evolution they have had in terms of functionality. Everything has been honed and they are obtaining the estimated results. I think it is essential to highlight that the company bet on the reactivation during this pandemic and never forsook its workers”, said Maribel Cala, Electrical Inspector.
That is why, in the most difficult moments of this pandemic, the company was always present to help its employees and their families. Additionally, during unforeseen circumstances, such as the winter tragedy of August 2021, they donated 300 mattresses to help the families affected by the downpours.
“It outlined the technical maturity in the evolution of all the staff of the plant, which we operated since the first month without outside support. We are reaching productivity standards in many of its calibers. The culture of Ternium is one hundred percent implemented in Palmar de Varela”, assured Eduardo Gutiérrez Elizondo, Operations and Engineering Director in Ternium Colombia.