By Peter Roberts
Primary steel producer BlueScope Steel today announced its FY23 results and a decision to go ahead with the relining of its Number 6 blast furnace (6BF) at the Port Kembla Steelworks (pictured).
However the company said the decision did not lock the company into a full, 20 year blast furnace operating life, but would secure its immediate future as a steel maker, and allow the consideration of deeper decarbonising options.
The company reported FY2023 underlying EBIT for the financial year of a ‘robust’ $1.61 billion, according to Managing Director and CEO Mark Vassella.
However net profit after tax was $1.01 billion, a $1.8 billion drop on the record FY22 result.
Operating cash flow for the latest half year was $1.34 billion after capital expenditure, with the company holding $703 million in cash.
Work began in Sydney on a new metal coating line to meet demand and a feasibility study is underway for the construction of an electric arc furnace in new Zealand.
However the bigger news was the much anticipated relining of the mothballed Number 6 blast furnace.
The company said in a statement that as the steelworks approached its 100 year anniversary it was looking towards its low carbon, modern manufacturing future.
“We are actively exploring options for the longer-term, large scale decarbonisation of our operations, in order to realise our vision of low emissions iron and steelmaking in Australia.
“Implementing the reline and upgrade project allows us the necessary time to develop, test and pilot alternative viable lower emissions iron making pathways.
“It also recognises the practical reality of the time frames required for the establishment of the critical enablers of lower emissions steelmaking.”
The statement said the reline would enable BlueScope to make the transition to lower emissions ‘as soon as it is commercially feasible’.
“In this sense the reline project is our bridge to the future and critical to maintaining the sovereign capability of flat steelmaking in Australia.
“The relined 6BF is expected to be commissioned in mid to late 2026.”
BlueScope said it had made significant progress in studies with Rio Tinto into direct reduced iron (DRI) technology, completing a concept study into DRI and melter technology.
Picture: BlueScope Steel