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Algoma Steel shares construction update on electric arc furnace

$700-million electric arc steelmaking facility to reduce carbon emissions by 70 per cent
A delegation from the Ontario Building Officials Association Northern Lights Chapter tour Algoma Steel on Jan. 25.

The most expensive project in Sault Ste. Marie’s history is so far on budget and on time, according to Algoma Steel officials.

On Wednesday, SooToday had a rare opportunity to join a visiting delegation from the Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA) on a tour of the construction site of Algoma Steel’s future electric arc steelmaking facility.

The $703-million project will feature a pair of electric arc furnaces (EAF) that will replace the plant’s existing blast furnace, coke oven batteries, and basic oxygen steelmaking operations.

The furnaces are expected to come online in 2024, and ultimately, the transformation aims to reduce Algoma’s greenhouse emissions by up to 70 per cent when construction efforts reach the final stages in 2029.

Wednesday’s tour primarily focused on the preparations being carried out for the foundations of several areas of the future facility, including the Scrap Yard and Melt Shop.

In addition to the two electric arc furnaces, the new steelmaking facility will include a power sub-station, water treatment plant, two dedicated baghouses, and a vacuum degasser.

The project is also expected to generate 500 new construction jobs for the community.

Senior project supervisor Shane Gillespie says they are on track for commissioning in the spring of 2024.

“The proposed operational transition will occur in two phases.

“During the first phase, we plan to alternate arcing on one furnace at a time, supplementing the scrap charge with approximately 30 per cent hot metal from the blast furnace which will be operating at a reduced level.

“In the second phase, as the availability of electric power from the grid increases, we’ll be able to run both furnaces together by 2029.”

Gillespie notes the project will eventually position Algoma among the leading producers of green steel in North America.

“It’s a good chance to really clean up what we have, and it’s a better way to make steel,” he says. “It will dramatically shrink Algoma’s environmental footprint, resulting in cleaner air and water in the community.”

“The furnaces are designed with special enclosures unique to North America that will contain noise deterrents, providing a safer, cleaner, and quieter work environment.”

“The new facility will also increase steelmaking capacity from 2.8 million to 3.7 million liquid tons – that’s over 30 per cent more capacity.”

Algoma Steel says other benefits of the EAF steelmaking facility include:

  • Improves competitiveness
  • Creates cost competitive platforms
  • Reduces sustaining capital requirements to allow more opportunity to invest
  • Reduces exposure to carbon taxes
  • Enhances product quality and diversification
  • Delivers modern workplace with skills development and succession opportunities
  • Provides more apprenticeships, co-op placements, and highly skilled career opportunities

— SooToday