Most of this article was about which public officials were there and which sent taped statements (Sen. Byrd, famous for the ammendment named after him), followed by much quoting of various officials of the company and the union thanking all and sundry. But at the end of the article was this bit about why Electric Arc Furnaces used for scrap steel and iron processing work well as an augmentation process for an integrated steel mill that I found interesting.
The Times Leader
The concept of utilizing electric furnace technology in tandem with the company’s ongoing integrated operations offered an attractive option to Wheeling-Pitt. The timing for an operation that combined integrated and mini-mill technologies was enhanced because of available and proven leading edge technology.
The attractiveness of using EAF technology was highlighted by the following advantages of this process:
Scrap, as the major metallic raw material for an EAF, varies in cost with the selling price of steel. Typically, when steel prices fall, so does the cost of scrap steel. The EAF’s variable cost structure helps insulate against business cycle troughs, a characteristic that cannot be realized through integrated operations.
EAFs require less sustaining capital compared to blast furnaces and coke plants that need major investments for periodic major relines and rebuilds. In addition outages necessary to complete major relines and rebuilds, significantly reduce production.
Production levels of EAF operations are more flexible than those of a blast furnace and can be turned up or down rapidly to respond to steel business cycles.
EAF technology is now available as a continuous steel making process, providing for reliable preheating of scrap, and the ability to reliably utilize molten iron as a metallic feedstock.