Analysis and Commentary

Whyalla says goodbye to coal as steelmaking goes green(er)

Analysis and Commentary

By Peter Roberts

The LIBERTY Primary Steel steelworks at Whyalla in South Australia has unloaded its last-ever consignment of coal as the company continues its transition to green steel production.

Owned by GFG Alliance, Liberty set mid September as the closure of its coal-fed coke-making ovens and the transition from a coke-fed blast furnace to a more environmentally friendly electric arc furnace (EAF).

Head of Integrated Planning Hayley Perkins said: “It is the most significant change from the traditional process of producing steel that I’ve seen in my 55 years at the steelworks.

“It’s a change we have to make for the future of steelmaking, it’s a positive way forward for the sustainability of the steel business in Whyalla which is a good thing for the community and environment.”

Once consuming more than a million tonnes of coal every year, the end of coke as a reductant in the blast furnace is an important step in the decarbonising of steel – one of the most critical of all manufactures threatenned by restrictions on carbon-intensive industry.

But it is not that Liberty has gone green just yet.

GFG took the decision to stop importing coal from its eastern seaboard mines once it placed a firm order for an electric arc furnace

Liberty will import coke in the short term until the commissioning of the EAF.

“This last shipment is a real step forward towards GREENSTEEL and linked to one of the biggest changes in the decommissioning of the coke ovens,” Hayley said.

“I think there is some nostalgia but also an overall sense of optimism for the future as we move forward with new technology and a new green way of making steel.”

Further reading:
Whyalla site will retire blast furnace, up capacity with new electric arc furnace: GFG
Renewables open opportunities for Australian steel – Husic

Picture: LIBERTY Primary Steel

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