Nucor are looking to establish a commercial scale iron ore processing plant at Kwinana, Western Australia. Other joint venture partners in the project include Rio Tinto Group (60%), Mitsubishi Corp (10%) and Shougang Corp (a Chinese Steelmaker, 5%).
The plant which is to be constructed on Rio Tinto’s site at Kwinana will utilise “Hismelt” technology. This involves the injection of non-coking coal and iron ore into a molten bath of iron to convert iron ore to liquid metal. It’s advantage over other technologies is that it creates less environmental impact as it does not require coking ovens and sinter/pellet plants. It can also process iron ores that are deemed not suitable for other steel making processes.
The plant when complete will have capacity to produce 800,000 tons of pig iron (iron content 96%) per year. The location offers excellent access to sea and rail transportation systems.