Gerdau, JFE Steel sign co-operation deal for Brazilian plate production

Gerdau has signed a technical co-operation agreement with Japan’s JFE Steel for the production of heavy plate in the Latin American country, the Brazilian steelmaker said on Thursday February 4.

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The deal will “optimise the learning curve” for operators of the 1.1 million-tpy heavy plate rolling mill at Gerdau’s Ouro Branco mill in Minas Gerais state, which is expected to start operations in July.

“By July, the rolling mill should be producing a complete array of gauges,” Gerdau said.

The line was initially scheduled to start supplying steel to the Latin American market in late 2016, but the start-up was brought forward, Gerdau said.

JFE Steel’s technical consultants will help Gerdau to improve its technological mastery of heavy plate production, which should accelerate advances in its output process.

The technical co-operation agreement encompasses both the rolling and meltshop operations, which means than the Japanese company will provide complete support for the development of new products.

“We selected JFE Steel because it is a world reference in technology for the production of heavy plate,” Gerdau ceo André Gerdau Johannpeter said.

With the technical agreement, Gerdau will be able to “quickly and effectively supply the market with high-quality products”, he said.

The production of heavy plates at the Ouro Branco unit will make it possible to replace imports in Brazil and to serve new market niches, the company added.

Heavy plate is used in industries such as machinery and equipment, construction, oil & gas, shipping, wind power and transport infrastructure.

The planned commissioning of this heavy plate facility marks the expansion of Gerdau’s product line in the flat steel segment.

Gerdau started flat steel production in Brazil at the Ouro Branco mill in 2013, with the installation of a 800,000-tpy hot rolling mill.

By January 2016, the mill had produced more than 1 million tonnes of hot rolled coil (HRC).

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