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Q1 2024 Message From The IRE Australasia President Mario Taddeo
Q1 2024 Message From The IRE Australasia President Mario Taddeo

Dear Colleagues and Friends – Happy New Year to you all. There have been a few changes to our management committee with Vice President Don Merritt departing his current company of 4D Delta to be CEO of Predico Software, which is mostly focussed on the energy industry. As a result of this increased commitment, Don aims to retire from the IRE with the Vice President position being vacant by the end of 2024.  

David Hollott, a former President of IRE Australasia (2004-2005) after retiring from Hatch Engineering now joins our team as Assistant Treasurer / Secretary and is offering a great contribution to our success. At the time of publishing, the IRE Australasia committee will have signed the contract to host our next conference at The Fullerton Hotel; a five-star luxury hotel in the heart of Sydney’s financial and fashion district and housed in the historic former General Post Office building. Be prepared to receive various notifications; save the date (8-10 December 2024), call for papers, registrations, conference programs etc.

 Our conference will include a special full day trip to the local BlueScope Steel Port Kembla works, an integrated steel plant producing 3.3mtpa. Part of the visit includes a tour through the refractory department and installations area. However, seats for both the conference and add-on tour are limited, members and end users will take preference where we are overbooked. So, ensure your membership is up to date and that you book in early to avoid potential disappointment.

The mining and metals industry in Australasia is volatile with shut pressures and growth. Regarding the steel industry, we are having what I call a “decarbonisation renaissance”. It means we are seeing significant investment in our local steel industry focussed on efficiency and emissions. Investment in our steel sector includes:

  • New Zealand Steel – New (80t) electric arc furnace with the latest hot metal charging technology that replaces the KOBM (Approved NZ$300m/£150m).
  • BlueScope Steel Port Kembla, NSW – No6 blast furnace reline has been approved at a cost of AU$1.15bn (£600m), commission occurring in 2026.
  • Liberty GFG Whyalla, South Australia – Shut down of coke ovens after 55 years of production. Plant to be upgraded with a low carbon emissions 160t electric arc furnace and a 1.8mtpa DRI (direct reduced iron plant) from locally mined magnetite, lifting steelmaking production from 1 to 1.5mtpa. A reported investment of AU$500m (£265m) with an aim to achieve a ninety per cent reduction in GHG (greenhouse gases).
  • Mid West DRI Plant WA – using ‘green’ hydrogen DRI to convert Western Australian iron ore into hot briquette iron for export. Total investment of AU$1.5bn (£800m) and will abate 4mtpa of CO2. Commissioning expected in 2028.
  • Collie Green Steel Mill, Western Australia – Located 210km south of Perth, will convert Western Australian scrap steel into rebar for local and international consumption. The plant will use the latest efficient EAF technologies. Construction is expected to commence in late 2024, and early operations beginning in 2026. AU$400m (£210m) total investment.

Though we are far away, we have a lot happening down under. I would welcome our European and Asia Pacific colleagues to join us at our late 2024 conference to learn more about these developments and sharing refractory knowledge.

Mario Taddeo MI Ref Eng
President, IRE Australasia

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