The Overall Concept
Australia is rich in natural resources. In abundance are iron ore, thermal coal and coking coal, the key feedstock for steel. With a small population and limited steel production, Australia is the world’s leading export steelmaking commodity resource economy providing long-term sustainable supply, with approximately 40% of the world’s seaborne iron ores and about 60% of the world’s seaborne quality coking coals.
Strong growth in raw steel production and consumption, driven by the rapid industrialisation of China and India in particular, is expected to continue, necessitating substantial investment in new global steelmaking capacity.
Project Iron Boomerang is a nation-building rail infrastructure project designed to underpin investment by global steel making companies in a major ‘value adding’ steel industry initiative consisting of two new first-stage Steel Parks in Australia, one near Newman – Fortescue River Valley in Western Australia and another at Abbot Point Precinct (near Bowen) in Queensland.
The East West Line approximately 3,300 kilometres in length, will link iron ore resources of the Pilbara Western Australia to coal resources in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, thereby enabling first-stage steelmaking facilities, located and constructed in large industrial parks at each end of the rail line, to be established in Australia with cost efficient access to the primary raw materials required.
The infrastructure, services and resource linkages will support and fuel ten blast furnaces – five on each coast – to create one of the world’s largest commercial projects with an estimated overall cost of US$45 billion (including both PIB and the independently-owned and operated, blast furnaces, coke ovens, power stations slab wharves and water and infrastructure services).
First-stage iron making products (slabs, billets or blooms will be produced as feeder stock iron products) are a three times consolidation of value added iron/steel feedstock products. Hence, by locating production close to major resource inputs, the proposed Project will reduce the FOB cost of slab steel delivered to a representative East Asian steel mill by an estimated US$107 per tonne (a reduction of more than 30%). This exceptional cost advantage provides Australian industry with an opportunity to capture the value-add from first stage steelmaking production prior to export. Further, concentrating production in these large industrial precincts will achieve significant economies of scale and achieve high asset utilisation for shared infrastructure. It will also maximise the efficient utilisation of energy with co-generation from by-products, global transport efficiencies, state of the art production processes, efficient energy utilisation and the management of waste and other by-products.
- three times smaller ships from Australia to the overseas steel rolling mills will be required
- this will provide processing at competitive sustainable long-term mass market locations
- this will greatly benefit the mutual exporting and importing steelmaking nations’ sustainable management of the competitive steel integrated businesses
- there is also the bonus delivery of environmental net gains, relative to the current seaborne supply chain of Australian iron and steel making ores
- both the sustainable and abundant natural gases available – coal seam methane gas in Queensland and natural gas in Western Australia
East West Line Parks Limited will build, own and operate an East West rail link, encompassing both above and below rail services, as well as two Steel Precincts that will accommodate the steel smelters. East West Line Parks Limited will provide logistics and other services to the steel smelters. Common user industrial support infrastructure (stock and slab yards, coke ovens, co-gen power station, sinter plant, oxygen plant, etc) is to be owned/operated on a collaborative basis to maximise precinct advantage economics.
International and domestic iron and steel producers
- are invited to form and lead a steelmakers’ equal share holding partnership consortium
- will work with partners from China, India, Japan, South Korea, East Asia, USA and EU
- will design, construct, own and operate their first-stage slab steel plants within these rail connected precincts.
The project is anticipated to create more than 35,000 construction, administration and service jobs in Australia.
A detailed Pre-Feasibility Study Report has been completed. This study indicates strong economic and environmental benefits of the project. The next step in the process is to undertake a full Feasibility Study/EIS.