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Despite substantial government money being invested in the establishment of the Kwinana – Fe HIsmelt iron ore smelter at Kwinana, 30 kilometres south of Perth in Western Australia, Rio Tinto have decided to dismantle and ship the entire plant offshore to China.

Kwinana – Fe HIsmelt Smelter hit by Global Financial Crisis Downturn
The Kwinana - Fe HIsmelt smelter was closed in late 2008 after suffering an adverse effect the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) had on the mining industry at the time. About 200 people lost their jobs at the refinery as a result of the company's decision. The Kwinana iron ore smelter was a joint venture operation that included Rio Tinto, Mitsubishi Corporation, Nucor Corporation and Shougang Corporation.

Decision to Send Kwinana – Fe Smelter to India Changed to China
It had earlier been decided to relocate the Kwinana -Fe HIsmelt smelter to India. In 2011, Rio Tinto had signed a memorandum of understanding with Indian company, Jindal Steel and Power Limited, which was to own the plant and work closely with Rio Tinto to further develop and market the HIsmelt technology. It had been organised for the whole plant at Kwinana to be shipped to Jindal Steel and Power Limited's facility at Angul. However, a late decision has been made to dismantle and ship the entire Kwinana – Fe HIsmelt smelter plant to China instead. The facility is now in the process of being made ready to be shipped to Chinese steel making company, Molong. The HIsmelt equipment at Kwinana is currently being deconstructed by a demolition company. It is to be reconstructed in China as a small pilot project.

HIsmelt Technology Used at the Kwinana Smelter Developed by Rio Tinto Over 25 Years
HIsmelt is an iron ore smelting technology that has been developed by Rio Tinto over a 25 year period. It enables the company to make iron directly from iron ore. The technology smelts iron ore fines using non-coking coal. This reduces the cost, as well as damaging environmental emissions, that are a part of the conventional steel making process.

Chinese Steelmaker Molong Enter Joint Venture Agreement with Rio Tinto to Develop HIsmelt Technology
The reason the plant relocation was changed from India to China was that it would have requred too many changes having to be made to set up in India. Rio Tinto and Molong have entered into a joint venture arrangement to further develop the HIsmelt process in China where Molong will build a one to 1.5 million tonne a year capacity pilot plant using the Kwinana recycled equipment. The new plant in China is planned to begin production in 2014. The Indian company, Jindal Steel and Power Limited, is to build their own plant in 2015 based on the experience gained with the Chinese pilot scheme. The Indian plant, to be constructed in Orissa, at Angul, is due to begin production in 2016.

HIsmelt, stands for, “high intensity smelting,” it is a world first in commercial direct smelting that enables iron to be made straight from iron ore. The non-coking coal and fine iron ore is injected directly into a molten iron bath that is built within a Smelt Reduction Vessel (SRV). This produces a high quality molten pig iron. The HIsmelt technology is considered to be a potential replacement of the conventional blast furnace method of smelting. It is considered to be a new source of low cost iron making by means of direct reduction (BOF) or steel making in an electric arc furnace (EAF).

The HIsmelt technology will deliver lower operating costs and less of an environmental impact as well as more operational flexibility and greater availability of raw material.

Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is a major producer of iron ore, coal, bauxite, alumina, aluminium, uranium, copper, gold, diamonds, salt and energy across the globe. Businesses include open pit and underground mines, refineries, smelters, mills and power stations. Also a number of research facilities more


Rio Tinto
152-158 St George s Terrace
Perth, WA 6000



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