Posco starts Gwangyang ‘super-gigantic’ furnace after 20 months’ work

South Korea’s Posco restarted its No. 3 blast furnace at Gwangyang on July 10 following the completion of scheduled works that have transformed it into “a super-gigantic furnace,” a spokesman said July 17.

The furnace’s volume is now 5,500 cubic meters, up from 4,600 cu m, with output increased by 25% to 4.6 million mt/year.

“The company has already secured the minimum order required to operate the Gwangyang No.3 Blast Furnace and plans to make every effort to resume operation to its ordinary level promptly,” the company said.

The work took one year and eight months to complete at a cost of Won 400 billion ($331.8 million).

It was initially expected to restart on May 28 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posco has lowered its 2020 projection for crude steel production to 34.1 million mt, down 7.1% from 36.7 million mt earlier.

“The steel demand slump that the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed is yet to be recovered, and steel prices are still low,” the steelmaker said.

With Gwangyang No. 3 back online, Posco now runs six super-gigantic furnaces in South Korea — two in Pohang and four in Gwangyang.

A blast furnace of 5,500 cu m or more is considered a super-gigantic furnace and there are only 15 such furnaces around the world, Posco said.

Posco was also heard to be back in the seaborne market for ferrous scrap since the start of this month, seeking offers for Japanese material, with latest purchases of shredded scrap for delivery to Gwangyang port.

— Clement Choo, Samuel Chin