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Modernization and increased efficiency for the future of the national steel industry in Brazil

Published 8.4.2024

With global demand reaching historic levels, Techint Engineering & Construction is making a name for itself in the Brazilian market by offering specialized services.


Growing in parallel with Brazil’s role as one of the main steel producers in the world is the need for modernization and greater efficiency, an inescapable challenge for the development of the sector. Techint E&C understands this complexity and is ready to meet the technical demands of this country’s steel industry with its specialized engineering and electromechanical assembly services, positioning itself as a strategic partner for investments in the sector.


Challenges in the steel industry

In a scenario marked by the expansion of crude steel production, reaching the impressive figure of 1.951 billion tons in 2021, the global steel market is experiencing a moment of effervescence, according to Worldsteel .

As a world leader in the sector, China stands out as the largest producer, accounting for 53% of global production per year. Meanwhile, Brazil occupies ninth place in the ranking, and is responsible for almost 2% of the global volume.

However, this outlook is not without its own challenges. The increase in the influx of Chinese steel to the Brazilian market is a growing cause for concern for the leading companies and entities in the sector, now calling for protective measures in the face of unfair competition. According to the publication InfoMoney , the 58% hike in steel imports from China in 2023, compounded by a fall in national production and pressure exerted by Chinese state-owned companies, has called into question the competitiveness of the national industry.

In this context, strengthening the Brazilian market is a priority, especially with the need to export steel, given that, of the 210 billion reais in revenue recorded in the country in 2022, around 155 billion reais correspond to the domestic market, according to data from the Brazil Steel Institute . Furthermore, the per capita demand for crude steel in Brazil, although lower than in nations such as China and the United States, is nonetheless high and shows significant potential for growth.


How is steel made?

To better understand the steel production process, it’s essential to trace the steps that transform raw material into ready-to-use steel products. Let's see how this happens, very simply.

• Preparing the charge for the Blast Furnace

The process begins with preparing the charge of raw materials to feed the Blast Furnace, a combination of iron ore, coke and limestone. Iron ore fines are agglomerated using lime and coke, resulting in a product called sinter. Meanwhile, coal is processed in the coke oven and turned into coke. This charge is used in the next steps of the process.

• Reduction process in the blast furnace

The prepared raw materials are then loaded into the blast furnace, which is basically a large reactor lined with refractory material able to withstand high temperatures. In this environment, oxygen heated to a temperature of approximately 1000ºC, is blown through the bottom of the blast furnace. This action brings the coal into contact with oxygen, generating enough heat to melt the metallic charge. This reduction process produces pig iron, an alloy of iron and carbon with a high carbon content.

• Pig iron refining

Pig iron, together with iron and steel scrap, is then taken to oxygen or electric steelworks. In these steelworks, pig iron is refined, removing part of the carbon present along with other impurities called slag. The result of this process is liquid steel, which is then solidified in continuous casting machinery, producing slabs or ingots.

• Casting

The semi-finished products, ingots and slabs obtained in the previous process are fed into continuous casting equipment, where they solidify and can be shaped according to their end-purpose. This step is essential for shaping steel products, preparing them for the next phase: rolling.

•  Rolling

At this stage, the semi-finished products, ingots and slabs are processed in the rolling mills where they are subjected to compression forces that transform them into a wide variety of final products. Depending on the desired shape and chemical composition, these products can be sheets, bars, or profiles, for instance.

National challenges and Techint E&C’s performance

It is in this challenging scenario, which is also one full of opportunities, that Techint E&C reaffirms its commitment to the development of the sector in Brazil. Serving companies that are among the largest in Brazil in crude steel production, Techint E&C is known not only for its technical capacity, but also for its innovation in constructability studies for highly complex projects in 4D models. These allow for detailed prior planning and take into account the entire execution strategy, internal logistics, critical lifting, etc., in addition to the execution of electromechanical assembly services in general.

In the words of Thiago de Oliveira, Business Development Director from Techint E&C: “Our presence in the Brazilian steel market is becoming increasingly consolidated, in line with the technical excellence of the services provided, and thanks to our ability to tackle even the most complex of challenges. We are committed to helping to strengthen the national steel industry, supporting our customers as they implement investment plans and offering innovative, high quality solutions.”

With strategic contracts signed with Usiminas and Ternium Brazil, the largest steel producers in Brazil, Techint E&C has a fundamental role to play in the investment plans of these companies as they expand and modernize steelmaking operations in the country.

With Usiminas, for example, Techint E&C has a contract to provide electromechanical assembly services, contributing to implementing the significant investment plans made over the last three years aimed at increasing efficiency, modernizing and improving operations at its Ipatinga Plant, Minas Gerais.

Techint E&C has been a close partner of Ternium Brazil in recent years working to carry out technical studies for highly complex projects, with an experienced team specializing in steel projects in place and using state-of-the-art technology. In recent years, one of the most significant projects carried out by Techint was building the new PCI (Pulverized Coal Injection) system for the Blast Furnaces, which increased productive efficiency at the steel mill. More recently, it has a number of ongoing contracts with Planning, whose main scope encompasses detailed constructability studies, planning, cost estimates, etc., as well as long-term contracts and Long Term Agreement (LTA) for electromechanical assembly services. Both contracts are being carried out at the Santa Cruz Plant, in the western zone of Rio de Janeiro.

As it works to overcome current challenges and stay ahead of trends governing investments in the Brazilian steel market, Techint E&C is positioning itself as a strategic partner, with all the expertise and competence necessary to boost competitiveness and sustainability in the sector. Furthermore, it provides its customers with differentiated services while driving economic and social development in the country.

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