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GFG Alliance’s Liberty Steel Group has begun to phase-out coal-based steelmaking at its Whyalla steelworks facility in favour of renewable energy.

Liberty is starting by signing a $485 million supply contract for a low-carbon electric arc furnace to be provided by Danieli, an Italian-based supplier of raw materials for the global mining industry.

The new furnace will lift steelmaking capacity at the Whyalla, SA, operation from one million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to over 1.5Mtpa, and will initially be fed by domestic steel scrap and other fe-bearing materials to deliver an expected 90 per cent reduction in direct carbon emissions.

Liberty said this aligns with the aims of the Federal Government’s safeguard mechanism.

The company has also begun engaging with global equipment suppliers for the installation of a 1.8Mtpa direct reduction plant (DRP) in Whyalla which can process local magnetite ore to produce low-carbon iron.

The DRP will initially use a mix of natural gas and green hydrogen as the reducing agent, before fully transitioning to green hydrogen. The low-carbon iron would then feed into the electric arc furnace in combination with scrap to produce high-quality steel grades.

Liberty executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said the furnace marks the beginning of Whyalla moving a much cleaner and greener industry.

“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 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 it’s 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.”