Mining and Heavy Industries

Liberty Steel to phase out coal-based steelmaking

Liberty Steel, part of the GFG Alliance, will phase out of coal-based steel making at its Whyalla plant and has signed a supply contract for an electric arc furnace.

Liberty Steel, part of the GFG Alliance, will phase out of coal-based steel making at its Whyalla plant and has signed a supply contract for an electric arc furnace.

Equipment manufacturer Danieli will supply the 160-tonne low carbon emission furnace, which will lift steelmaking capacity at Whyalla from 1 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to more than 1.5mtpa.

The electric arc furnace will initially be fed by domestic steel scrap and other Fe-bearing materials to deliver an expected 90 per cent reduction in direct CO2 emissions compared with traditional blast furnace production.

Danieli’s patented Q-One technology, the first of its kind, provides capability for a direct feed from renewable power sources which could help to eliminate indirect emissions from Whyalla’s new steelmaking facility.

Engineering work is already underway, and construction is expected to be completed in 2025 replacing the existing coke ovens and blast furnace.

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Liberty also plans to install a 1.8mtpa direct reduction plant (DRP) in Whyalla that can process local magnetite ore to produce low carbon iron (DRI).

The DRP will initially use a mix of natural gas and green hydrogen as the reducing agent, before fully transitioning to green hydrogen as it becomes available at scale.

The low carbon DRI can then be fed into the electric arc furnace in combination with scrap to produce high quality steel grades for infrastructure projects, and to serve the growing global demand for low carbon DRI.

The development follows the successful trials for upgrading Whyalla’s magnetite pellets production to direct reduction grade.

The investments are part of Whyalla’s Carbon Neutral by 2030 (CN30) plan, which is the core of Liberty’s decarbonisation strategy.

Whyalla’s CN30 plan aims to grow magnetite production to 15mtpa to convert into 10mtpa of green DRI for export and domestic ‘green’ steel production.

Operations will be overhauled with sophisticated mineral processing techniques at the mines, with advanced iron and steel making facilities, large scale hydrogen production and storage facilities all connected to renewable electricity generation.

GFG Alliance executive chairman, Sanjeev Gupta, said today marks the beginning of a new era placing Whyalla at the heart of a global revolution in the steel industry, moving it from being the most polluting of all industries to among the cleanest and greenest.

“Through the steps we’re taking to install state of the art low carbon iron and steelmaking technologies here in Whyalla we will not only support Australia’s climate ambitions, but we will help to decarbonise steel supply chains globally,” Gupta said.

“Whyalla has some of the best conditions to make low carbon iron and steel anywhere in the world and with our magnetite expansion plans, coupled with South Australia’s endless resource for renewable energy and green hydrogen, the potential for Whyalla has no bounds.

“Whyalla is very proud of the role blast furnace production has played in the history and development of this incredible town and in supporting Australian infrastructure development, but its phasing out allows us to usher in a new era for sustainable iron and steel production that will take employment and prosperity here to new heights.”

Premier of South Australia Peter Malinauskas said Whyalla and the broader Upper Spencer Gulf has enormous potential to lead the world in green hydrogen production, helping decarbonise industry across the planet.

“We look forward to working with key industrial players, including Liberty, to take full advantage of the opportunity to reindustrialise the Upper Spencer Gulf on the back of this.”

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