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11 March 2024, 15:19

Lukashenko discusses BelAZ development strategy

MINSK, 11 March (BelTA) – BelAZ should maintain momentum, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he gave the go-ahead to the appointment of the company’s new head, BelTA has learned.

Sergei Lesin, BelAZ Deputy Director General/Technical Director, was promoted to the position of BelAZ Director General.

“Sergei Ivanovich, are you sure there won’t be a setback?” asked Aleksandr Lukashenko.

“We are taking measures to maintain momentum that we gained during the previous three years,” said Sergei Lesin.

“The pace was quite good in that period,” the president remarked.

“Now we are going to focus on production of underground mining equipment. We are moving prototypes [of underground mining trucks] from Mogilev to the main production site to speed up this work. We are making good progress on wagons this year: 800 wagons are to be exported. There are plans to diversify assortment at our main production site. This pertains to a heavy hydraulic excavator, a heavy 70-tonne grader - equipment that has no analogues either in China or in Russia. In other words, if we expand the line-up, our output will remain the same even if the market for mining trucks shrinks,” he said.

“Yet, Sergei Ivanovich, this should not be a thing of a distant future. You are right, we need to transfer the prototypes to the main site, produce and sell. But don’t forget about quality. We can quickly start producing all this, just make sure you will not be traveling around the world back and forth trying to fix things,” the head of state warned.

Talking to journalists, Sergei Lesin noted that he views Western sanctions as the confirmation of the company’s importance: “Indeed, this [sanctions] created additional obstacles for the enterprise. We were included [in the sanctions list] on 21 June 2021. I think we should view this as the acknowledgment by Western competitors of the fact that our company is an important contributor to the economic security of our country. Our entire team is proud of this. We were holding our heads up high as we were surmounting all these obstacles. We have turned the page on these problems. We have learned how to deal with the restrictions.”

According to the new director general, BelAZ is doing quite well. It is actively upgrading its main production site in Zhodino, implementing large-scale investment projects at its subsidiaries in Vitebsk Oblast, Brest Oblast, Minsk Oblast, as well as in Mogilev.

“Our performance in 2023 was very good. We have been growing since 2021 at a very good pace. Almost 200%, if we talk about a three-year period. Of course, the bar is high. But the president has set a task for this year to maintain momentum in terms of growth rate and production output,” emphasized Sergei Lesin.

Speaking about the company's plans, he noted that the company is going to increase its presence in other markets and expand the product assortment. “We are already doing this in the mining equipment segment where our line-up was not that big. The sanctions opened up new opportunities for us in the Russian market as it has become less competitive, so we have been taking advantage of these new opportunities since last year. We have already carried out trial operation of samples. We know what to improve. We are already negotiating serious contracts for 2024-2025,” said the head of the enterprise.

The company is scaling up the production of railway cars in its Mogilev branch: “We are pleased with the output and exports. This production site is also being upgraded. New painting complexes are already being put into operation. Equipment for the mechanical processing of body parts has been purchased and is being installed.

From the company’s perspective, the key to success is increasing reliability, improving equipment quality and exploring new niches. Speaking about new niches, Sergei Lesin remarked: “This will be mining equipment in the short term and hydraulic excavators (no one in the post-Soviet space has produced them) in the medium term; heavy graders over 70 tonnes are a very rare product. Our drivers of growth in the future are not only mining trucks, but also related products.”

According to the director general, BelAZ focuses on heavy machinery in the mining equipment segment. “These are mining trucks with a carrying capacity of 30-50 tonnes, and loading and delivery vehicles with a carrying capacity of 16-17 tonnes. This class of equipment is produced by Western companies and us. Chinese companies do not do this,” he noted.

Answering a question about import substitution of individual components, Sergei Lesin remarked that about 70% of components and materials in manufactured vehicles are made in Belarus and Russia. The rest is purchased from friendly countries. “Nevertheless, we are working towards 97-99% localization in Belarus and Russia. We have already developed some samples with such a degree of localization. This work is in progress, and it takes time to achieve 100% localization across our entire product portfolio,” said the head of the enterprise.
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