Ranked as the fourth-largest steel group in China, Wuhan Iron and Steel (WISCO) has announced that it is to enter the rare gases market with the formation of a crude neon and helium processing centre in the central China region.

When completed, the centre will be capable of processing 230,000 cubic metres per year of neon and helium – making it the largest of its kind in the central China region. It will also generate RMB 27m ($4.1m) in revenue for the company.

With more than 40 years of experience in rare gases production and with a total capacity of 220,000 Nm3/h of air separation units (ASUs), the subsidiary industrial gas company of WISCO – one of the largest industrial gas production bases in China – is now the largest rare gas production base in Asia and known as ‘the cradle’ of rare gases of China. The company can produce all of the four common rare gases, neon, helium, krypton and xenon, as well as more than 100 other types of specialty gases.

The gases company now owns two sets of ASUs with recovery units for crude neon and helium, and has decided to invest in a new plant from The Linde Group. It made RMB 2bn (approx. $307m) in revenue in 2014 and a profit of nearly RMB 200m ($30.7m).