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Whyalla steelworks coke ovens extinguished in historic change

Manufacturing News

Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty Primary Steel has extinguished the coke ovens at the Whyallla steelworks in South Australia after more than five decades in operation.

Liberty, part of the GFG Alliance, took the step on the way to decarbonising its Whyalla operations – originally built by BHP and that played a key part in Australia’s war effort in WW2 – at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and SA Premier Peter Malinauskas.

Albanese paid tribute to the British owner of the works for moving to install an electric arc furnace that would give the works a new future, and for planning to utilise hydrogen in future in steelmaking.

“Here in Whyalla we have such an incredible comparative advantage with anywhere in the world.

“With high value magnetite just near here.

“With the skills and workforce that we have at this facility and a world class port, which as a result of the $100 million dollar commitment that we’re making today in partnership with the South Australian Government, will be even more a potential for export.”

Magnetite is a form or iron ore which is suited for direct reduction furnaces where hydrogen replaces coke as a reductant.

In a recorded message Gupta said: “We now realise that the carbon that has helped build the past has also been slowly and quietly suffocating our planet is now reaching a tipping point where it accelerates climate change, turning the world into a pressure cooker.

“So now it’s time to rethink and re-engineer how the steel we make can continue to build our world going forward.”

However Gupta said the Whyalla site was moving to a ‘brighter, greener, more productive’ future

During his visit to SA Albanese also announced a federal-state committment of $100 million for common user facilities at the region’s hydrogen hub at Port Bonython, south of Wyalla.

The cash will pay to complete the extension of the export jetty at the port to take the world’s largest ships, and common user infrastructure such as pipelines and hydrogen storage tanks.

The state has yet to release the results of a tender for $600 million of hydrogen projects in Whyalla, including a 250MW hydrogen electrolyser and a 200MW hydrogen electric power plant – the first such large scale plant in the world.

Further reading:
SA, federal governments announce $100 m for Port Bonython hydrogen infrastructure

Picture: Anthony Albanese

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