MIDREX® Direct Reduction Plants – 2018 Operations Summary

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Antonio ElliotManager – Technical Services

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MIDREX® Direct Reduction Plants - 2018 Operations Summary

MIDREX® Plants produced almost 64 million tons in 2018, ~13 percent more than the 56.7 million tons produced in 2017.

Over 11 million tons of HDRI were produced by MIDREX Plants and consumed in nearby steel shops, helping these steel shops reduce their energy consumption per ton produced and increase their productivity. Production of HBI by MIDREX Plants surpassed 9 million tons, establishing an all-time record.

World DRI production surged by almost 13.4 million tons to a new record of 100.5 million tons. The sustained growth through 2018 was driven primarily by strong demand for natural gas-based DRI – an environmentally friendly and low residual metallic that is needed to produce today’s premium steel products. As in recent years, most of the growth occurred in India and Iran. According to WSA data, Iranian output was more than three times greater than it was 10 years ago.

Prices for both long product and flat product steels began the year at relatively high prices but then declined through the course of the year. Long products began the drop earlier but did not fall as far as flats. By the end of the year, flat products were down by as much as $100/t in most world markets.

Delivered prices for DRI, HBI and pig iron reflected the trend of flat products; i.e., healthy margins to begin the year followed by a gradual decrease throughout the year and culminating in constricted profits by year-end.

Meanwhile, iron ore prices vacillated in the range of $65-$75/t for the bellwether grade 62% Fe sinter fines, as delivered to northeast China. High premiums continued for high grade ore due to the tightness of supply caused by a combination of demand growth and supply constraint. The Samarco mine, a major portion of the world capacity of high-grade pellets, remained closed throughout the year.

MIDREX Plants continued to account for approximately 80% of worldwide production of direct reduced iron (DRI) by shaft furnaces and 63.5% of total global DRI products. Fifteen plants established new annual production records and at least 14 plants established new monthly production records. Seventeen additional MIDREX Modules came within 10% of their record annual production, and 17 MIDREX Modules operated in excess of 8,000 hours. One new MIDREX Module, designed to produce 2.5 million tons of HDRI/CDRI, was started up in November 2018, for Tosyali Algerie located near Oran, Algeria, belonging to the Tosyali Holding Group. Two additional modules were started up this past year in Iran: a 1.5 million t/y CDRI MIDREX Plant belonging to Chadormalu Mining and Industrial Co. at Ardakan, Yazd, in December 2018; and a 1.7 million t/y MIDREX Plant (GISDCO 2) belonging to Golgohar Iron & Steel Development Company at Sirjan, Kerman in June 2018. MIDREX® Plants have produced a total of 1,045 million tons of DRI/HBI through the end of 2018.



In its 40th anniversary year of operation, ACINDAR’s MIDREX Plant operated at a record average annual production rate in 2018 and 14% more hours than in 2017, despite the typical winter natural gas curtailments. Annual production was over 1 million tons, only 3% short of ACINDAR’s annual production record. In 40 years of operation, ACINDAR has produced 30.94 million tons of DRI.


The first MIDREX Plant designed to make HBI exceeded annual rated capacity in 2018 by 15% with over 8,100 hours of operation, which was within 4% of its annual production record set in 2004. Total iron in the HBI product was the highest of all MIDREX Plants, averaging 93.47% for the year. All of the plant’s production was shipped to third parties by water.


In its 45th anniversary year, Module 1 twice set new monthly production records (in March and December). For a second consecutive year, Module 2 set a new annual production record (1.088 million tons and 8,353 hours of operation), surpassing its previous record set in 2017 by 11%. Production from both modules was a record-breaking 1.67 million tons.


In its 48th year of existence, the oldest operating MIDREX Plant at AM Hamburg comfortably exceeded annual rated capacity, averaging over 70 t/h and just under 8,000 hours of operation. With relatively high product quality of 94.33% metallization, AM Hamburg’s natural gas consumption was below 2.40 net Gcal/t, and its electric energy consumption (79 kWh/t) was the lowest of any MIDREX Plant.



ArcelorMittal Canada Module 2

Antara Steel Mills

Antara Steel Mills


AMLC produced 17% over its rated capacity of 1.2 million tons in its 21st year of operation. Its cumulative production (31.74 million tons) is the most by a single MIDREX® Module to date.


All three MIDREX Modules in Trinidad and Tobago remained shut down throughout the year.


This COREX® export gas-based MXCOL® Plant operated the whole year but was limited by the availability of gas from the COREX Plant. The MXCOL Plant used an average of 68% South African lump ore for the year.


COMSIGUA in Venezuela operated close to full capacity for about 3,000 hours over a 7-month period in the year due to the limited supply of locally produced pellets.


The two MIDREX Modules in Nigeria did not operate in 2018.


Each of DRIC’s two MIDREX Modules in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, set new annual production records in 2018, through increased hourly production rates. DRI production by the two modules totaled over 1.0 million tons.


Due to the high price of natural gas in Egypt, as well as the competition of foreign steel products, ESISCO did not operate in 2018.


Essar Steel’s six MIDREX Modules operated at less than maximum capacity for the whole year but set a new total DRI production record for the complex of 4.86 million tons. Modules 5 and 6 operated using off-gas from Essar’s COREX Plant for ~15% of their energy input. Module 1 was restarted in February after conversion from producing HDRI/HBI to producing CDRI only.


With natural gas availability in Egypt becoming more plentiful, production from EZDK’s MIDREX Modules increased to over 2.6 million tons, which is ~90% of their maximum capacity. All three modules operated over rated capacity, surpassing the 60 million tons mark. Module 1 also surpassed 25 million tons in its 32 years of operation. Modules 2 and 3 operated over 8,300 and 8,400 hours, respectively, in 2018. Due to the current pellet shortage, EZDK continued to use 10-20% lump ore throughout the year.


Ferrominera Orinoco’s MIDREX HBI Plant in Venezuela did not operate the whole year due to limited availability of locally produced oxide pellets.


Hadeed Modules A and B exceeded rated capacity for the 34th consecutive year and Module C for the 26th consecutive year. Modules A and B averaged over 8,500 hours of operation in 2018. Module C operated 28% over its rated capacity in 2018, and has produced more than 25 million tons of CDRI since its start-up in 1992. Hadeed E operated at slightly over 235 t/h throughout the year. Hadeed’s four MIDREX Modules have produced 90 million tons of DRI to date. Hadeed also owns an HYLIII plant (Module D).


After surpassing the 10 million tons mark at the beginning of the year, Jindal Shadeed established a new monthly production record in December by averaging 210 t/h, following a major shut-down for maintenance and improvements and with increased availability of natural gas. The plant’s annual production was within 1% of the record it set the previous year. The MIDREX Plant is designed to produce mainly HDRI, with HBI as a secondary product stream. A major portion of the plant’s production (88%) was consumed as HDRI by Jindal Shadeed’s own steel shop adjacent to the DR plant.


The Jindal Steel and Power Ltd. (JSPL) combination HDRI/CDRI plant in Angul, India, remained shut down the whole year after start-up of JSPL’s new blast furnace. This is the first MXCOL plant, using synthesis gas from coal gasifiers to produce HDRI and CDRI for the adjacent steel shop. The plant restarted operations in early 2019.


The JSW Steel MIDREX Plant in Raigad, India, operated very consistently (8,175 hours) throughout the year, with CDRI production coming within 0.4% of the plant’s production record established in 2017. JSW Dolvi set a new monthly production record in March, averaging over 200 t/h, after also breaking the previous monthly production record in January. The plant has averaged over 8,000 hours of annual operation since its start-up in September 1994. The system installed at the end of 2014 to reduce natural gas consumption by adding coke oven gas (COG) from JSW Steel’s coke oven batteries to the MIDREX® Shaft Furnace operated throughout the year.


The JSW Steel HDRI/CDRI MIDREX Plant using COREX export gas in Toranagallu, India, set a new annual production record for the fourth straight year as the result of an hourly productivity increase and a record 8,224 hours of operation in the year. JSW also set new monthly production records in January and March 2018.


The LGOK MIDREX HBI Modules 2 and 3, located in Gubkin, Russia and belonging to the Metalloinvest Group, set new annual production records of 18% and 10% over their rated capacity, with 8,151 and 8,173 hours of operation, respectively. Both modules set new monthly production records in October 2018. LGOK HBI-2 has produced over 15 million tons since its start-up in October 2007. LGOK HBI-3 was started up in March 2017, and has ramped up production impressively. LGOK HBI-1 is an HYL plant.


The Lion DRI plant, located near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, remained shut down throughout 2018 due to insufficient market demand for locally produced steel products in Malaysia.


Production by LISCO’s three MIDREX Modules in Misurata, Libya, increased 9% compared to 2017, despite being restricted by natural gas supply and current country turmoil.


In its 12th year of operation, Nucor’s MIDREX Plant in Trinidad and Tobago came within 3% of its annual production record established in 2017 and set a new monthly production record in December 2018. Average DRI metallization for the year was the highest of all MIDREX Plants at 96.0%, with 2.68% carbon in the DRI


Thirty-five years after the start-up of its first MIDREX Module, OEMK produced over 3.2 million tons in 2018, with Module 2 setting a new annual production record after undergoing a revamp in August-September 2017 to increase production. OEMK’s four modules averaged 8,429 hours of operation in 2018 and have produced almost 70 million tons since start-up of the first module in December 1983.


In its 11th full year of operation, Qatar Steel’s dual product (CDRI and HBI) Module 2 operated 20% over its rated annual capacity of 1.5 million t/y and came within 5% of its annual production record. The entire production from Module 2 was CDRI, with metallization averaging 94.7% for the year. Operating over 8,150 hours in the year, the production of Module 1 was only 4.7% below its record annual production. Qatar Steel has produced more than 44 million tons of DRI to date, 40 years after the start-up of Module 1.


Production by all four of Sidor’s MIDREX Modules was just over 200,000 tons in 2018, limited by oxide pellet and natural gas availability in Venezuela. Modules 2B and 2C remained shut down the entire year.


SULB’s 1.5 million tons/year MIDREX Combination Plant (simultaneous production of CDRI and HDRI) in Bahrain set a new annual production record in 2018 at 6% over rated plant capacity and broke monthly production records four times in the year. HDRI sent directly to the steel mill accounted for 70% of the plant’s production, with most of the balance exported by ship.


TenarisSiderca operated below maximum capacity and was down for over a month around July due to limited DRI demand by the steel shop and natural gas curtailment during the winter months.


Tosyali Holding’s new 2.5 million t/y MIDREX Combination Plant (simultaneous production of CDRI and HDRI) located in Bethioua, near Oran, Algeria, began ramping up operations in November 2018. This is the largest capacity, single module MIDREX Plant built to date.


The Tuwairqi Steel Mills 1.28 million t/y MIDREX Combination Plant (simultaneous production of CDRI and HDRI) located near Karachi, Pakistan, did not operate in 2018 due to local market conditions.


Venprecar’s HBI production was restricted by the limited availability of oxide pellets in Venezuela.

voestalpine TEXAS

The voestalpine Texas MIDREX Plant located near Corpus Christi, Texas, USA, designed to produce 2.0 million tons of HBI per year, continued to ramp up production in 2018, setting two new monthly production records during the year. The HBI produced was shipped to third parties and to the steel mills of its parent company, voestalpine AG, in Austria.

At the time of printing, only limited information had been received from MIDREX® Plants in Iran.

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