Air Liquide wins a major contract to supply oxygen for the steelmaking industry in Australia


Air Liquide WA Pty Ltd (a 60%-40% joint venture between Air Liquide Australia Ltd and Wesfarmers Energy Ltd) and HIsmelt Operations (a joint venture representing Rio Tinto, Nucor, Mitsubishi, and Shougang) have announced the signing of a fifteen-year contract. In accordance with this contract, Air Liquide will supply the oxygen and nitrogen required for the new iron production plant to be built at Kwinawa, near Perth in Western Australia. This plant is planned to produce about 800,000 tons of iron per year.

Air Liquide will supply a new air-separation unit for this future site. Construction will begin in the first quarter of 2003 and start-up is scheduled for late 2004. This new project is expected to consume 900 tons of oxygen per day.

The innovative technologies developed by HIsmelt enable steel makers to enhance the value of poorer quality ores, to avoid the coking phase, to substantially reduce CO2 emissions as compared to traditional processes, thus improving productivity while offering environmental advantages.

Air Liquide's patented process OXIAL has been chosen by the customer because it is the best-suited solution to produce the large quantities of oxygen used to enrich air. Commenting on this agreement, Pasquale Perazzelli, General manager of HIsmelt commented: "Air Liquide's OXIAL technology meets the needs of our operations process perfectly."

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