Australian PM Anthony Albanese tours Whyalla Steelworks amid shift to green steel

Image credit: PM Anthony Albanese's Facebook

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has visited the Whyalla Steelworks, a fully integrated steelworks and rail manufacturer, marking a significant milestone in the country’s journey towards low-carbon, green steel production. 

Accompanied by South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas, Albanese celebrated the closure of the coke ovens and the transition to hydrogen-Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) and Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) technology.

Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta expressed the company’s pride in collaborating with forward-thinking governments to facilitate its green steel transformation. 

He acknowledged the support and encouragement provided by both the Federal and South Australian governments, emphasising their role as partners in this sustainable endeavour.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Federal and South Australian governments for their support and encouragement, and we look forward with confidence to delivering our green steel vision with them as partners on this journey,” Gupta stated.

Gupta used the occasion to thank coke oven personnel following the historic final push on 15 September 2023, which marked the end of producing coke from metallurgical coal on-site for use in the blast furnace.

“After an incredible 55 years, we must pause to recognise the vital role the coke ovens played at the steelworks and the incredible contribution of the highly skilled workers who were a part of this era,” Gupta remarked. 

He added, “Coal-based steelmaking has helped to build the modern world, but it is now time to rethink and reengineer how the steel we make can continue to build our world going forward.”

Gupta also lauded the fact that 100 per cent of the coke ovens workforce had chosen to continue with the business in alternative roles, demonstrating their commitment to the transformation.

Whyalla, with its vast reserves of over 4 billion tonnes of high-quality magnetite ore and abundant wind and solar energy resources, has been deemed the ideal location to pioneer the next generation of green steel-making technology.

“With our reserves of over 4 billion tonnes of high-quality magnetite ore and South Australia’s natural blessings of wind and solar energy, there is no better place to usher in the next generation of steel-making technology based on clean energy and green hydrogen,” Gupta emphasised.

In April 2023, GFG Alliance announced the procurement of a state-of-the-art Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) to replace the existing coke-fed blast furnace. 

Importation of coke for use in the blast furnace will continue until the EAF installation is completed.