February 25, 2013 2

Heavy Metal (BE)

Heavy Metal is a high capacity steel strip mill in the centre of Belgium, part of the factory is live, but we are interested in the parts which are not!

The sheer size of these buildings made this one of my favorite explores to date, the smelting pots and lifting equipment around the building look large (while we are high up on a 70m gantry) but at ground level they tower above you they are vast, epic examples of heavy industry.

Production stopped in the liquid steel plant very recently (sometime in 2012) and this can be seen as soon as you get past the fence. Trains, cargo containers, cranes and heavy lifting equipment littered allover the inside of the factory. The main attraction (other than the size) has to be the massive smelting pots which are all around the shop floor.

I could have spent an entire day in here, it was awesome and i can’t wait to return 2 hours just isn’t enough.

Site History

The company inherited a steel industry with significant debts and production overcapacity based on blast furnace production rather than electric furnace recycling, with numerous factory sites in constrained city locations, and adversely affected by competition in the export market from new steel producing countries such as South Korea and Brasil. The need to streamline was complicated by regional dependence on employment by the steel industry.

The steel plant was supplied by rail using 130t capacity torpedo wagons. The plant had three LD converters, facilities for iron desulphurisation and vacuum treatment. Production is by continuous casting with a capacity of 3.5million tonnes per annum, the primary product is hot rolled steel coil up to 2m wide.

In October 2011 AM announced the closure of liquid steel (“hot phase”) at Heavy Metal, Part of the site is still live which includes a Hot rolling Mill which briefly stopped in from May to April 2009 due to the economic downturn caused by the financial crisis of 2007–2010.

The liquid steel buildings were closed in 2012 and the rest of the site hangs in the balance as of 2013.


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