Page 723
Previous/Next Page
Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 10

I 1. Introduction

II 2. The Role Of Technology

III 3. Some Highlights Of Australian Minerals Technology
i Gold
ii Copper
iii Lead-zinc-silver
iv Technology in iron ore mining
v Iron and steel technology
vi Nickel
vii Mineral sands
viii Bauxite, alumina, aluminium

IV 4. Other Technological Achievements (in brief)

V 5. Export Of Technology

VI 6. Education And Research

VII 7. The Scientific Societies

VIII 8. Conclusion



Contact us
Ironmaking (continued)

In addition to the above highlights, there have been a range of notable supporting developments including the development of suitable refractories from local raw materials, evaporative stave cooling of blast furnaces in 1970s (Newcastle and Port Kembla collaborated to substantially redevelop Russian technology), and efficient reline practices (in the 1960s, No. 2 and No. 3 furnaces at Newcastle were relined in world record time).

By 1986, BHP blast furnaces had achieved world quality performance in terms of productivity, fuel rate and lining life: this resulted from the early application of Japanese concepts, with operating practices suitably altered to allow the efficient use of local raw materials. BHP established close links with Japanese companies well in advance of companies in other developed countries.


Prior to 1936, only a limited range of steels was produced. At Newcastle, by 1939, the open hearth furnace capacities had all been increased to 125 t by increasing bath depth (hollowing out of furnace bottoms). One of the key problems in establishing satisfactory large scale Steelmaking in Australia was overcome in this early period, namely the development of satisfactory refractories. In particular, the use of a basic refractory roof on No. 1 furnace in 1939 was a world first.

From 1936, with the improved economy and the need for defence needs identified, a greater range of steels was produced; a notable achievement was the development of a bullet proof steel with manganese, silicon, chromium and zirconium as alloying elements which could be welded and shaped in the as-rolled condition, eliminating the need for nickel and molybdenum. This was the best bullet proof steel in the world.

The introduction of the Basic Oxygen Steelmaking (BOS) process on a 200 t scale at Newcastle in 1962 was a major step; annual raw steel capacity increased from 1 to 2 Mt in the first year of operation. This furnace was one of four large units built simultaneously around the world (two in USA, one in Europe); previously the largest scale was 60 t.

At Port Kembla, open hearth Steelmaking reached a high level of refinement, culminating in the large No. 2 Open Hearth Shop in 1956; this shop achieved a world quality performance. In the 1950s, Port Kembla had a reputation for excellence in this area, both in design and operation.

Large (270 t) BOS furnaces were installed at Port Kembla in 1972. With the intelligent application of available technology, backed by strong technical and research groups, these furnaces perform at world standards of productivity and quality; such performance is necessary for sequence casting of quality steels in the high production slab casters at Port Kembla.

The level of achievement in the technology of iron and steel production is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that BHP is now by far the world's cheapest producer of iron and steel. While this is influenced by the current value of the Australian currency, there is a strong competitive advantage due to the efficient use of local raw materials in high productivity plants.

Previous Page Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Next Page

© 1988 Print Edition pages 760 - 761, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher