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:: HIsmelt Construction Starts
The start of construction of the first commercial HIsmelt Process Plant in Kwinana has cemented Western Australia's place in world iron production history.
Premier Geoff Gallop said the new $400 million facility, owned and operated by a consortium led by international mining giant Rio Tinto, would be an exciting new addition to WA's commercial landscape.
Dr Gallop said the State Government had committed $30 million for purchasing land and upgrading port facilities associated with the project.
"The HIsmelt process plant will add a new dimension to the State's resources sector capabilities, positioning the international spotlight firmly on WA as a technological leader and innovator in environmentally-friendly resources production processes," he said. "The new HIsmelt technology is the world's most advanced for direct pig iron smelting, and converting iron ore to liquid pig iron through the injection of non-coking coal and fine iron ore into a molten bath.
"As the process does not need the sinter/pellets plants and coke ovens that are used in traditional blast furnace technology, it is cleaner steel making it more environmentally friendly than conventional iron making - so very important in a greenhouse gas-aware world.
"The new plant will create 230 construction and 65 permanent jobs and utilise the established infrastructure of the State's largest industrial precinct at Kwinana."
Dr Gallop said that aside from the obvious investment and employment aspects of the development, the HIsmelt facility would also have a major impact on the future of the iron ore industry in WA.
"The technologically-advanced HIsmelt process should help to extend the life of our State's iron ore industry, as it can unlock the value of otherwise unsellable phosphorous-rich ores," he said.
"Up to now, large reserves of these ores have been sitting relatively untapped in the Pilbara. This process therefore has important implications for the sustainability and long-term profitability of the industry in the years to come.
"HIsmelt will create new markets for WA, enabling us to meet the demand for new sources of iron metallics which are required as feedstock for the rapidly growing electric furnace industry, particularly in rapidly growing Asian markets.
"The Government will be encouraging Hlsmelt to consider establishing an expanded facility and steel mill in WA, should this commercial plant prove viable."
The HIsmelt technology was developed in a demonstration plant in Kwinana over the last 10 years.
In stage one, the HIsmelt plant would produce 820,000 tonnes of pig iron per annum, increasing to 1.64 mtpa by 2006, in stage two.
The process and plant is owned by HIsmelt (Operations), a consortium comprising Rio Tinto, Nucor Limited, Mitsubishi Corporation and the Shougang Group of China.
The HIsmelt plant will be commissioned in late 2004.
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