GFG Alliance group has revealed development plans to replace Whyalla Steelworks’ blast furnace with a $1bn electric arc furnace (EAF) and renovating the South Australian steelmaking facility by 2024.
The group has also started a review of the facility to identify savings and efficiency actions that may aid the economically challenged plant. The expanded venture adds to prior plans for building a new rolling mill in the facility.
The improvement plans include a larger capacity direct reduced iron (DRI) plant to produce low-emission steel referred to as GREENSTEEL, with upgrades to help the company become a carbon-neutral steelmaker by 2030. The new EAF and DRI plant combined will produce advanced steel long products for construction, critical infrastructure and mining industries in Australia.
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman and owner of GFG Alliance, purchased the then-insolvent Whyalla steelworks in 2017 for about $700mn. The company has appointed a global team of experts who will work over the next three months on the major cost reducing project, to improve financial viability of the company. GFG’s new global CEO for primary steelmaking and integrated mining, Paramjit Kahlon, will lead the review that will conclude in September 2020.
The modern DRI plant will be supported by natural gas, later evolving to green hydrogen produced by GFG’s own renewable energy projects that include Cultana, a large solar farm being built in Whyalla.
GFG has invested over $60mn so far, in the engineering and design work for the project and intends to move forward on completing funding and begin building. The mill’s construction will commence later this year and the EAF and DRI facilities’ construction will begin in 2021.
The integrated steelworks facility produces about 1.2mn mt of raw steel per year. Steel in billet form is further processed at the company’s market mills or converted into finished product at its rolling mill that produced a record 40,000mt in May 2020.