The Hindustan Steel Limited’s plant at Bhilai has been built under the Russian collaboration (former Soviet Union) in 1953 at Bhilai on the Kolkata- Mumbai main line 720 km. west of Kolkata (260 km east of Nagpur) in Durg district of Chhattisgarh.
It is an iron-ore based plant collecting its raw materials from the Dhalli-Rajhara mines at 96.6 km south of the plant. Here iron ore (Fe below 65 per cent) is collected from hills with height of 121.6 m and length 32.2 km and is processed in two crushing and screening plants with a capacity of handling 25 lakh tones of ore per year. Coal is obtained from Korba (Chhattisgarh), Bokaro, Kargali and Jharia (Jharkhand) coal fields.
The plant collects limestone from Nandini mines (19 km from Bhilai); manganese from Balaghat and Bhandara mines; dolomite from Bhatapara, Ramtola, Hardi, Kasondi, Bhaneswar, Parsoda, Khaira and Patpara; water from Tandula canal and reservoir; electricity from Korba thermal powerstation; and port facilities from Vishakhapatnam sea port.
The steel plant consist of 6 batteries of coke ovens, 1 sintering plant, 5 blast furnaces, 11 open hearth furnaces, 1 blooming mill, 1 billet mill, 1 rail and structural mill, 1 merchant mill and 1 wire-rod mill. The auxiliary units include a slag processing plant and a refractory material plant. Bhilai’s rail and structural mill (capacity 5 lakh tones) is one of the most modern and the largest in the world which manufactures rails of various international standards.
Its wire rod mill (capacity 4 lakh tones) is also one of the largest of its kind in the world. The plant produces heavy rails, structurals and broad-flanged beams, medium and light structural’s, billets and rolled wire.
Bhilai plant was initially designed to produce 1 million tons of steel ingots and 7.5 lakh tones of rolled and finished steel products. But after modernization this capacity has been first raised to 25 lakh tones and later on 4.4 million tones of ingot steel per year.
Its production performance has been quite satisfactory in recent years, more than 75 per cent of the rated capacity. Bhilai today meets the major portion of the country’s demand of pig iron.
In 1996-97 Bhilai produced 2.43 lakh tones of pig iron, 41.87 lakh tones of crude steel and 34.82 lakh tones of saleable steel (in 1997-98 the figures being 3.24 lakh tones, 42.23 lakh tones and 35.24 lakh tones respectively). Recently it has also started making plates for ship-building industry. The plant also produces byproducts like ammonium sulphate, benzol, coal tar and sulphate acid etc.