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New large-scale HBI order for voestalpine in Texas secures full capacity utilization

13 June 2016 | 

Just a few months prior to completion of the new voestalpine direct reduction plant in Corpus Christi, Texas (USA), another major customer has been won: an offtake agreement has been signed with the new American steelmaker Big River Steel to run for the next four years, securing the US company’s supply of hot-briquetted iron (HBI). In future voestalpine will produce roughly two million tonnes of this high-quality steelmaking prematerial annually at the new location in Texas.

US steel manufacturer 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. From 2017 onwards the mill will take annual delivery of up to 240,000 tonnes of hot-briquetted iron (HBI) from voestalpine in Corpus Christi. Over the past few months voestalpine has signed long-term supply contracts for high-quality HBI with several customers. In total, 60 percent of the planned production volume will be supplied to third parties, primarily steelmaking companies within the NAFTA zone. The remaining 40 percent, amounting to around 800,000 tonnes annually, will be shipped to the Austrian voestalpine sites at Linz and Donawitz for processing. “The new order not only underscores the growing market position of the voestalpine Group inside the NAFTA zone, it also secures full capacity utilization of the direct reduction plant, even before it is put into operation,” says Wolfgang Eder, Chairman of the Management Board of voestalpine AG. The growing trend toward high-quality steel production in the United States demands additional volumes of iron-ore-based prematerials such as HBI.

The HBI plant is currently in the final construction phase and, once built, will be the largest and most modern of its kind in the world. The plant run-up phase is scheduled for the coming summer months. Final assembly of the electrical, electronic, piping, and conveying systems is currently underway. The sea port at the plant has already been completed, with an initial 100,000 tonnes of iron ore pellets from Brazil being offloaded from the first freighter at the end of April. The plant’s advantageous location on the Gulf of Mexico is also important in this new business relationship: the new Big River Steel mill is located directly on the Mississippi. This excellent waterway connection ensures that delivery of the HBI is highly efficient and cost-effective, and eliminates the need for any reloading en route.

These seamless logistics mean continuous deliveries of the high-quality prematerial, ensuring that we can meet our customers’ exacting demands over the long term

David Stickler, CEO of Big River Steel

The voestalpine Group

In its business segments, voestalpine is a globally leading technology and capital goods group with a unique combination of material and processing expertise. voestalpine, which operates globally, has around 500 Group companies and locations in more than 50 countries on all five continents. It has been listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange since 1995. With its top-quality products and system solutions using steel and other metals, it is one of the leading partners to the automotive and consumer goods industries in Europe as well as to the aerospace, oil and gas industries worldwide. The voestalpine Group is also the world market leader in turnout technology, special rails, tool steel, and special sections. In the business year 2016/17, the Group generated revenue of EUR 11.3 billion, with an operating result (EBITDA) of EUR 1.54 billion; it has around 50,000 employees worldwide.