Steelmakers Gerdau and the Japanese JFE Steel Corporation have signed a technical co-operation agreement for the production of heavy plate in Brazil.

According to Gerdau, the agreement will optimise the learning curve of the heavy plate rolling mill in Minas Gerais that is scheduled to commence operations in July.

The 1.1Mt/yr Ouro Branco Mill was originally scheduled to start operations later in the year, but the start-up date has been brought forward, according to Gerdau.

The agreement will optimise the learning curve of the heavy plate rolling mill, claims Gerdau, adding that JFE’s technical consultants will help the company improve its technological mastery of heavy plate production, which should accelerate advances in production processes.

The new deal encompasses rolling and melt shop operations. “This means that the Japanese will provide complete support for the development of new products,” Gerdau said, adding that by July the rolling mill should be producing ‘a complete array of gauges’.

"We selected JFE Steel Corporation because it is a world reference in technology for the production of heavy plates, as well as a leading global producer of the steel good," said André B. Gerdau Johannpeter. He added that the technical agreement will enable Gerdau to quickly and effectively supply the market with high-quality products.

Flat steel production commenced at Ouro Branco in Brazil in 2013 when the annual installed capacity was 800kt. In January 2016, the mill reached the 1Mt mark of goods produced since start-up.

Gerdau has also formed a joint venture with The Japan Steel Works (JSW) with the intention of manufacturing components from special steels for the wind power industry.

The plant for the project will be based in Sao Paulo.