The Linde Group has entered into a long-term supply agreement with Austrian steel producer Voestalpine, to deliver industrial gases to its Linz production site.

The contract, signed this week, involves the construction of an additional on-site air separation plant and will be managed by Linde Gas Austria. Extending and supplementing existing supply agreements, the deal amounts to an investment of around €62m.

Aldo Belloni, a member of the Linde AG Executive Board, commented, “Since 1994, when Linde assumed responsibility for the operation of Voestalpine’s air separation plants, we have continued to develop our collaboration with the company.”

“We are delighted that this project will enable us to continue to support the expansion of our most important Austrian customer,” added Belloni.

The new air separation plant is due to come on-stream in January 2010 and will supply the Voestalpine steelworks in Linz by pipeline, with up to 33,000 cubic metres of gaseous oxygen and nitrogen per hour.

The plant is also expected to produce liquefied oxygen, nitrogen and argon, as well as smaller quantities of krypton and xenon for the open market.

News has also been revealed of Linde investment in Eastern Europe.

Russia’s Uraltekhgaz has said that Germany’s Linde AG has acquired a 21% stake in the company, by purchasing stakes from general director Sergei Dabakhov and supervisory board chairman Vladimir Samozdra.

It has not yet been revealed how much Linde paid the two shareholders.