The first hot briquetted iron (HBI) plant in the United States, owned by voestalpine Texas LLC, was officially opened by an inauguration ceremony on October 26, 2016. The plant, which is located outside of Corpus Christi, Texas, was started up on September 27, 2016, and within little more than 24 hours, it was in stable operation at around 160 metric tons per hour producing on-grade briquettes.
During the ceremony, Wolfgang Eder, Chairman of the Management Board of voestalpine AG, said, “Today’s opening of the direct reduction plant in Corpus Christi is an important step for—and into—the future of our company. The new plant will not only secure the Austrian voestalpine sites by supplying premium pre-materials for steel production, it will also contribute significantly to further strengthening our position in the NAFTA region. Furthermore, over the long term it offers us new technological options for decarbonizing steel production.”
OTHER RECENT VA TEXAS NEWS
Just a few months prior to completion of its state-of-the-art HBI plant, voestalpine Texas signed an offtake agreement with the new US steelmaker Big River Steel that will run for the next four years. Big River Steel is currently building an ultra-modern steel mill in the state of Arkansas, which will specialize in the production of sophisticated flat-rolled products. Beginning in 2017, the mill will take annual delivery of up to 240,000 metric tons of HBI from voestalpine Texas LLC. The Big River Steel mill site fronts on the Mississippi River. Therefore, HBI delivery from the voestalpine Texas LLC. waterfront location will be highly efficient and cost-effective, eliminating the need for any additional handling or transshipment en route.
“THESE SEAMLESS LOGISTICS MEAN CONTINUOUS DELIVERIES OF HIGH-QUALITY HBI CHARGE MATERIAL, ENSURING THAT WE CAN MEET OUR CUSTOMERS’ EXACTING DEMANDS OVER THE LONG TERM.” – DAVID STICKLER, CEO OF BIG RIVER STEEL
In 2016, voestalpine has signed longterm HBI supply contracts with other customers including steel producer TYASA, based in Orizaba, in the state of Veracruz in the south of Mexico, for several hundred thousand metric tons. The company has recently increased its crude steel capacity significantly and is expanding its product portfolio with sophisticated steel grades. In addition to its existing product range, TYASA will produce high-quality flat steels which require the use of ore-based charge materials such as HBI from voestalpine Texas LLC.
“WE CAN ACHIEVE A JUMP IN PRODUCTION QUALITY BY USING VOESTALPINE HBI IN THE MODERN ELECTRIC ARC FURNACES AT THE SITE IN ORIZABA. WE ALSO REDUCE OUR DEPENDENCE ON MEXICO’S VOLATILE SCRAP MARKET AND IMPORTS OF SCRAP FROM THE USA,” – OSCAR CHAHIN TRUEBA, CEO OF TYASA
With the TYASA contract, a total of around 80% of the production volume was placed even before the plant even went into production. In total, 60% of the planned annual production will be supplied to third parties, primarily steelmaking companies within the NAFTA zone. The remaining 40%, amounting to around 800,000 metric tons annually, will be shipped to the voestalpine operations in Linz and Donawitz, where it will be used in metallic charge to the mills’ blast furnaces.
“THE GROWING TREND TOWARD HIGHQUALITY STEEL PRODUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES DEMANDS ADDITIONAL VOLUMES OF IRON-ORE-BASED CHARGE MATERIALS SUCH AS HBI. THESE ORDERS NOT ONLY UNDERSCORE THE GROWING MARKET POSITION OF THE VOESTALPINE GROUP, IT ALSO SECURES FULL CAPACITY UTILIZATION OF THE DIRECT REDUCTION PLANT, EVEN BEFORE IT IS PUT INTO OPERATION.” – WOLFGANG EDER, CHAIRMAN OF THE MANAGEMENT BOARD OF VOESTALPINE AG
voestalpine in the NAFTA region
Over the next 10 years, the voestalpine Texas LLC, site is expected to create up to USD 600 million in value for the Corpus Christi region and provide 150 long-term jobs. The plant uses natural gas instead of coal, as well as the latest dust prevention and water processing technologies, making it an environmental benchmark both in the NAFTA region and beyond.
The investment in the voestalpine Texas LLC. HBI plant represents another important step in voestalpine’s expansion in the NAFTA region. The company is consistently driving forward its strategy of internationalization in markets outside Europe, with its focus on the NAFTA region (Canada, USA, and Mexico) where it aims to triple current revenue levels to around EUR 3 billion by 2020.
The voestalpine Group already has 64 sites and around 3,000 employees in the NAFTA region, which generated revenue of more than EUR 1 billion during the past business year. This represented 9% of the voestalpine Group’s total revenue. The key growth industries in this market are the automotive industry and the railway infrastructure sector. The voestalpine Group is also well positioned in the special steel, oil & gas, and aerospace industries. Moreover, around 13% of voestalpine shares are currently held by North American investors.