Air Liquide has signed a long-term contract with Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium – South Africa’s second largest steel producer.

The French-owned industrial gas company will invest a total of €40m. This will include capital towards a 770tpd Air Separation Unit (ASU) for oxygen supply, which will be commissioned at the end of 2013. The new facility will also produce liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon to help meet the growing demand from South Africa’s industrial merchant market.

Pierre Dufour, Senior Executive Vice-President of the Air Liquide Group and supervisor of Africa and the Middle East, commented, “This contract is another milestone for the Group in South Africa as it represents a major improvement in our position in a growing market. Air Liquide is the fastest growing player in Southern Africa and this will also alow us to expand our footprint in the Sub-Saharan zone. Developing economies are one of the Group’s growth drivers.”

The latest investment follows Air Liquide’s prior moves into the region – an ASU in KwaZulu-Natal and an argon production unit, both of which were commissioned in 2011.

Mike Garcia, CEO of Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium described how the firm was won-over by Air Liquide’s reliability, he said, “We are delighted to partner with Air Liquide for the supply of oxygen and other gases, which are critical to our processes. Air Liquide brings worldwide experience and we are convinced it will deliver the reliability we require.”