The origins of the current steel mill in Donawitz date back to the documented hammer mill works from the year 1436.
Many changes in the structure of the iron-processing operation resulted in the 1st Styrian puddle steel production in the year 1837. Changes of the properties, building of the Donawitz-Vordernberg railway to reduce transport costs and the building of the 1st open-hearth furnace in the year 1878 marked the beginning of a new era in steel production. The era of mass steel production was ushered in with the erection of a coke oven and the expansion of the Vordernberg-Eisenerz railway.
With the construction of a new beam and rail rolling mill in the year 1892 Donawitz became the centre of smelting in the monarchy.
Shortly after the turn of the century in the year 1905, 2 coke ovens with a daily capacity of 400 tons of pig iron were established. Following commissioning of the 14th open-hearth furnace in the year 1912 Donawitz grew into the largest unitary steel mill facility on the continent. A lack of fuel led the plant into major turbulences during the time around World War I. The construction of a 15-ton electric furnace around 1928 resulted in the manufacture of low to medium-alloy special steels. The production of electric manganese steel rails falls into the same period.
After the annexation of Austria by the German Empire the "Reichswerke AG Alpine Montanbetriebe", Hermann Göring, emerged after several fusions in 1941. At this time the manufacture of products necessary for the war with full operation of the individual plants was top priority. In addition, 3 arc furnaces, a 60 t open hearth furnace, a 4th blast furnace and a blooming mill were also constructed.
Reconstruction after the turmoil of the war was based on the Marshall Plan from 1948. As a result, a new ingot line, a continuous billet line and a profile production line were commissioned in 1950, 1952 and 1954 respectively.
Following one of the most significant metallurgical developments in the 20th century the LD steel mill in Donawitz, equipped with two 30 t converters and a 500 t pig iron mixer, commenced operation as the second plant in the world on 22 May 1953. Donawitz played a decisive role in the development to operational maturity of the LD process.
It is the process according to which most steel (60%) is produced worldwide. With the help of the LD process it is possible to economically process large quantities of pig iron and scrap and supply crude steel of special quality.
Other milestones were the establishment of a steel degassing plant, the construction of a 120 m rail flow adjusting plant and a plant for the heat treatment of rails from the rolling heat. The most modern rail store worldwide commenced operation in spring 1994. The privatisation and successful listing on the stock exchange of VOEST-ALPINE STAHL AG took place in October 1995.
The most significant investment project in recent years was the conversion of the LD steel mill into a state-of-the-art compact LD steel mill. With an investment of € 150 million, valuable possibilities for optimising the product quality were created in addition to the increase in economy.
The new compact LD steel mill offers state-of-the-art plant structure with intelligent technology, efficient energy utilization, optimised flow of material, low maintenance requirement and minimised burden on the environment.