Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Explains Origins of Rolling Mill

FL0212023788 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 1800 GMT 29 Nov 88

[Text] Before inaugurating the 200 T rolling mill in Las Tunas, Commander
in Chief Fidel Castro explained to our correspondent in that province the
origins of the project.

[Begin Castro recording] Well, the idea came about in the Havana
enterprises meeting held in June of last year.  We realized that the
construction of the furnace area in the Antillana de Acero expansion was at
a more advanced stage than the rolling mill part--this was one part of the
problem.   Then, when those rolling mills were completed they were not
going to produce reinforcement rods but would produce other steel bars,
mainly for the mechanical industry.

So, we could not count on an increase in reinforcement rods when Antillana
de Acero was completed.  Second, the extension of Antillana de Acero was
going to produce--through a technological investment--450,000 tons [of
steel] instead of 200,000.  Thus, we were going to have a larger amount of
steel than the capacity of the rolling mill.

We needed those reinforcement rods for construction and exports.  A certain
market of reinforcement rods exports has been created during these years in
the area of convertible currency.  During the meeting's discussions, the
director of the construction enterprise was asked when the furnaces and the
rolling mill were going to be completed.  We realized then that if we
wanted to have reinforcement rods and if we wanted to have the capabilities
to roll out the increased production achieved through the technological
investment, more rolling mills were needed.

Since we already had the experience of the one that had been built through
the Sime [Ministry of the Steelworking Industry] in Havana, we saw that
it was up to us to build it.  The only thing was that we had to look for
some convertible currency resources to buy some engines and components.
Those resources amounted to around $1.7 million.  The decision was taken in
that June meeting but it had to be built quickly.  No location had been
assigned for this factory.  The plans were not ready.  Well, there were no
plans yet.  A location had to be found for it, it had to be planned, the
equipment had to be built in Cuba and assembled.  All this was done in 17
months, well, June, July, August, September, October, November--all that
was done in 17 months.  So, the decision was made, a location was assigned,
plans were made, all the equipment was built and assembled, and all the
civil construction and assembly was done.  The civil construction and
assembly was done in 14 months.  It was truly a record.  I believe this is
the way we need to work if we want to develop, with speed and swiftness.
Of course, this also shows the current ability of our country to do these
kinds of things. [end recording]