The LIBERTY Primary Steel coke ovens completed their final push today as the drive towards a green steel and carbon neutral future at the Whyalla Steelworks continues at pace.
It was an emotional day for past and present employees as the last push signalled the end of 55 years and 55 days of history. On hand to witness the historic moment was more than 20 past employees with twice as many present employees joining the coke ovens crew that had the honour of the last push.
It was also an extra special occasion for Richard Insall and Brian Moodie who were present for the first ever push at the coke ovens in 1968. They, and many other past employees, were picked up in a mini bus and hosted by Managing Director LIBERTY Primary Steel, Tony Swiericzuk for the momentous occasion.
“We are acknowledging how important those in our GFG Alliance family are to the future of the steelworks while also honouring those that went before them and worked so hard and diligently on this important section of our business,” said Managing Director LIBERTY Primary Steel, Tony Swiericzuk.
The closure of the coke ovens at the GFG Alliance operation follows the announcement in April, by Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta, that a contract had been signed for an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) at the Whyalla Steelworks. The EAF will run on electrical energy and will replace the existing coke-fed blast furnace.
Interim CEO Primary Steel and Mining, Theuns Victor said the closure comes exactly 55 years and 55 days after the coke ovens completed their first push in 1968 and signals another significant step in the journey to green steel in line with GFG Alliance Carbon Neutral by 2030 (CN30) ambition.
“Today’s final push is an historic moment for the Whyalla Steelworks and an equally momentous juncture in the future of our Whyalla operations,” Mr Victor said.
“It is another important step forward in our commitment to green steel, to the environment and our people who are coming along with us on this journey to a more sustainable way of making steel.
“While we are shutting down a significant part of the steelworks that has served us very well, we have also redeployed every coke oven employee … more than 110 of our GFG Alliance family that are going to continue with us into a new industrial age of steelmaking.”
Managing Director LIBERTY Primary Steel, Tony Swiericzuk paid tribute to the coke oven employees, past and present, as the final push evoked many memories while also revealing the portal to an exciting new future for the steelworks and the GFG Alliance operations in Whyalla.
“We are acknowledging how important those in our GFG Alliance family are to the future of the steelworks while also honouring those that went before them and worked so hard and diligently on this important section of our business,” Mr Swiericzuk said.
“With our SIMEC Mining Iron Ore business making huge advances in green iron direct reduced iron-ready pellets to feed a Direct Reduced Iron Process and then our Electric Arc Furnace, we are working towards creating a clean and green steelmaking future that our current employees and future generations will benefit from.”
In the short term, the closure of the coke ovens will also reduce the steelworks’ environmental footprint such as air emissions. Coking coal will now be imported for use in the Blast Furnace until the installation of the new technologies including the EAF.