BOC announced this week that it will build an oxygen plant for Brazil’s Companhia SiderÃºrgica de TubarÃ£o (CST), the world’s biggest producer of slab steel.
According to BOC, CST is one of the lowest cost steel producers in the world and provides 20 percent of the total global merchant slab supply, exporting around 99 percent of its annual output, including 49 percent to North America, 7 percent to Europe, and 44 percent to Asia. Since its privatisation in 1992, the company has invested more than $1.9 billion in its production facility.
Under the multi-year supply agreement, BOC will build and operate an oxygen plant at CST’s plant in VitÃ³ria. The plant is capable of producing up to 400 tons-per-day (tpd) of gaseous oxygen and is expected to begin operations in the second quarter of 2004.
Mario Coronado, project development manager, Process Systems, BOC, explained that CST will use the additional oxygen to double the level of oxygen enrichment to blast furnace Number 2, which will increase furnace productivity. CST will also reduce costs by replacing expensive coke with cheaper coal, using pulverised coal injection technology.
“BOC is making this significant investment to support CST’s expansion. CST has ongoing plans to increase steel production from 5 million to 7.5 million metric tons per year by early 2006,” said Nigel Jewkes, vice president, metals marketing, BOC.
Steel production is growing faster in Brazil than any other country in the Americas, Jewkes said. “Brazil currently accounts for about three percent of the world’s production of steel, but its year-on-year growth rate of 10.8 percent is second only to that of China.”