Analysis and Commentary

Whyalla steelworks continues transition away from coal

Analysis and Commentary

Liberty Primary Steel (LPS) the operator of the Whyalla blast furnace has announced another step in its journey to lower emissions from its primary steel making operation in South Australia.

The company, owned by Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, has started post-coke oven operational trials at the steelworks as the transition to low carbon steelmaking continues.

Following the recent decision to target a September closure for the coke ovens, the trial started on Tuesday 11 July to confirm the use of alternative gas sources to replace the existing coke ovens gas.

During the 24-hour trial, the plant will run solely on the gas from the blast furnace and imported natural gas.

This means the coke ovens gas (COG) will be consumed or flared and residents may notice a larger flare than usual over the steelworks.

LPS Managing Diirector Tony Swiericzuk said: “There may also be some additional steam observed from the top of the Blast Furnace as part of the trial.”

The company is aiming to sustain operations using alternative gas sources while maintaining production levels, quality standards, and timely delivery of steel

GFC plans for a new electric arc furnace and associated infrastructure to replace the blast furnace and coke ovens from 2025.

Supplier Danieli is supplying a 160-tonne electric arc furnace (EAF), the investment will see steelmaking capacity at the site rise from 1 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to more than 1.5mta.

Liberty has already produced low-carbon steel pellets suitable for use in the electric arc furnace from its magnetite ore reserves in the nearby Middleback ranges of SA.

The rapid progress puts pressure ion Australia’s other primary steel producer BlueScope Steel to speed its decarbonisation plans.

The company is taking a very cautious approach, opting to reline a blast furnace at Port Kembla in New South Wales, waiting to see how alternate technologies involving hydrogen develop.

LPS’s Swiericzuk said the gas trials marked a significant milestone in the steelworks operational journey as the GFG Alliance operation explores the process of running the site without COG.

Swiericzuk said: “This trial serves as an opportunity to thoroughly evaluate our readiness and make necessary adjustments to ensure a seamless and efficient production process in the post-coke ovens era.

“We are aiming to sustain operations using alternative gas sources while maintaining our production levels, quality standards, and timely delivery of steel.”

Further reading:
Whyalla site will retire blast furnace, up capacity with new electric arc furnace: GFG
Forget exporting hydrogen, make green iron and steel – Sanjeev Gupta
First GREENSTEEL pellets made at Whyalla steelworks

Picture: GFG Alliance

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