MIDREX® Direct Reduction Plants 2021 OPERATIONS SUMMARY
Though the COVID-19 pandemic persisted throughout 2021, MIDREX® Plants produced 71.52 million tons of direct reduced iron (DRI), which is 9.0% more than the 65.7 million tons produced in 2020.
The production total for 2021 was calculated from the 41.68 million tons confirmed by MIDREX Plants located outside of Iran and the 29.84 million tons for Iran reported by the World Steel Association (WSA). Approximately 9.7 million tons of hot DRI (HDRI) were produced by MIDREX Plants, which were consumed in nearby steel shops and assisted them in reducing their energy consumption per ton of steel produced and increasing their productivity.
MIDREX Plants have produced a cumulative total of more than 1.25 billion tons of all forms of DRI (cold DRI, CDRI; hot DRI, HDRI; and hot briquetted iron, HBI) through the end of 2021.
MIDREX Technology continued to account for ~80% of worldwide production of DRI by shaft furnaces in 2021. At least seven MIDREX Modules* established new annual production records and at least six established new monthly production records. Twelve additional modules came within 10% of their record annual production and 15 operated more than 8,000 hours.
The Venezuelan plants (COMSIGUA, Ferrominera Orinoco, Sidor and Venprecar) operated during 2021 at reduced capacities, but production details were not made available. No detailed production information has been received from Iran. The following plants did not operate in 2021 due to commercial or market conditions: ArcelorMittal Point Lisas, ArcelorMittal South Africa, Delta Steel, ESISCO, Lion DRI, and Tuwairqi Steel Mills.
* A MIDREX Plant can include one or more modules
NEW PLANT CONTRACTS
Mikhailovsky HBI, jointly established by USM and Mikhailovsky GOK (part of Metalloinvest), signed a contract with Midrex and its consortium partner Primetals Technologies Limited for a 2.08 million ton/year HBI plant in Zheleznogorsk, Kursk region, Russia. Start-up was expected in the first half of 2024, at contract signing.
Metalloinvest has contracted with Midrex and consortium partner Primetals to supply a third MIDREX HBI Plant (HBI-4) at Lebedinsky GOK (LGOK) in Gubkin, Belgorod region, Russia. The plant will be designed to produce 2.08 million tons/year of HBI. Full production was expected to become operational in the first half of 2025, with first product in December 2024, at contract signing.
Tosyali Holding awarded Midrex and its partner Paul Wurth a contract to build a second DRI plant at the Tosyali Algerie steelworks in Bethioua (Oran), Algeria. The new DRI plant will produce 2.5 million tons/year of HDRI and CDRI, similar to the original plant, with the capability to operate with the addition of hydrogen in the future.
2021 PLANT HIGHLIGHTS
ALGERIAN QATARI STEEL (AQS)
Despite the ongoing pandemic, AQS started up in March 2021 and set its highest monthly production record in August while ramping up production to meet its steel shop’s requirements.
ANTARA STEEL MILLS
The first MIDREX HBI Module operated under its annual rated capacity due to poor market conditions in the Far East in 2021. Total iron of its HBI product was the highest of all MIDREX Plants, averaging 92.83% for the year. All production was shipped by water to third parties.
In its 43rd year of operation, ACINDAR’s module operated below its maximum annual capacity due to local market conditions while logging 8,153 operating hours and over 95% metallization in their product. With almost 33 million tons of CDRI produced, ACINDAR has achieved the most production from a 5.5-meter MIDREX Shaft Furnace to date.
After a lackluster 2020 due to Covid, Module 1 set a new annual production record operating 8,481 hours in the year, while Module 2 set a new monthly production record in December. The combined production from both modules was just 1.4% shy of their 2018 production record. AM Canada’s modules have produced just over 40 million tons of CDRI since the start-up of its first module in 1973.
In its 50th anniversary year, the longest-serving MIDREX Module operated above its annual design rated capacity. Its annual average electricity consumption was the lowest of all MIDREX Plants at 82 kWh per ton.
ARCELORMITTAL LÁZARO CARDENAS
AMLC produced 17% over its annual rated capacity of 1.2 million tons in its 24th year of operation using mostly oxide pellets made in its adjacent pellet plant. Its 6.5-meter reduction furnace has produced over 36 million tons of CDRI, the most by a single module to date.
ARCELORMITTAL/NIPPON STEEL INDIA
Under new ownership, AM/NS India (formerly Essar Steel) produced over 5.3 million tons of DRI, breaking its previous multi-module annual record set in 2018 by over 9%. More than 2.9 million tons (or 89% of production) were in the form of HDRI from the four HDRI/HBI modules. All six modules combined have produced over 80 million tons of HDRI, HBI, and CDRI since the start-up of the first two modules in 1990. Modules 5 and 6 operated using CO2-scrubbed off-gas from AM/ NS’s COREX Plant for ~16% of their energy input.
After starting in 2020, Cliffs rapidly ramped up production and consistently operated well above rated capacity from June onwards. The 1.6 million ton per year plant located in Toledo, Ohio, produces HBI, mainly for consumption by internal Cleveland-Cliffs steel companies in the region.
Both of DRIC’s modules in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, operated above rated capacity and were back into full production in 2021, just 1.1% shy of their 2019 combined module production record. Module 1 set a new annual production record, operating 8,455 hours. Output from Module 2 was within 3% of its annual production record.
In its 35th anniversary year of operation, EZDK’s Module 1 exceeded rated capacity while operating 8,385 hours, as did Module 3 while operating 8,432 hours in the year. Production was limited most of the year due to market conditions which started to improve in the last two months of 2021. Average annual product metallization was 95% or higher from all three modules.
All four of Hadeed’s MIDREX Modules in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, produced at or above rated capacity. Combined, the modules surpassed the 100-million-ton production milestone in 2021. Module C operated 8,294 hours and was within 7% of its production record. With almost 24 million tons produced, Module E has attained the most production from a 7.0-meter MIDREX Shaft Furnace to date. Hadeed also owns an HYL plant (Module D).
Jindal Shadeed’s 2021 production of 1.7 million tons, over 1.6 million tons of which were consumed as HDRI in its attached steel shop, was less than 3% below the 2019 annual production record. In addition to operating over 8,000 hours in the year, Jindal Shadeed’s HOTLINK® Plant broke its March 2020 monthly production record in the month of November and again in December, reaching 226 t/h. Jindal Shadeed has operated over 8,200 hours per year on average for the full 11 years since its startup. The single module plant, located in Sohar, Oman, is designed to produce mostly HDRI, with HBI as a secondary product stream.
Jindal Steel and Power Limited’s (JSPL) MxCol® Plant in Angul, Odisha State, India, handily broke its previous annual production record in the seventh year in operation. This is the first MxCol Plant using synthesis gas from coal gasifiers to produce both HDRI and CDRI for the adjacent steel shop. HDRI production was 69% of total production, and coke oven gas (COG) use in the DR plant continued throughout the year, averaging ~19% of energy requirements in the plant.
JSW STEEL (DOLVI)
In its 27th year of operation, JSW Steel’s CDRI module handily exceeded rated capacity and operated over 8,200 hours. Approximately 10% of this plant’s energy requirement is coke oven gas (COG) injected to the shaft furnace to reduce natural gas consumption. JSW Steel (Dolvi) has averaged 8,032 hours of operation per year since its initial start-up.
JSW STEEL (TORANAGALLU)
JSW Steel’s HDRI/CDRI module in Toranagallu, Karnataka State, India, using COREX export gas as energy input, operated over 8,000 hours and increased its production compared to 2020. This is the second plant of its kind, the first being Arcelor Mittal’s COREX/MIDREX plant at Saldanha, South Africa.
LGOK’s MIDREX HBI Modules 2 and 3, located in Gubkin, Russia, both operated above rated capacity and only 3% and 2%, respectively, less than their annual record productions set in 2020. Module 3 holds the record of the highest annual production by an HBI module and from a 7.0-meter MIDREX Shaft Furnace, with over 2.0 million tons, set in 2020. The combined production of both modules surpassed the 30-million-ton milestone, and Module 2 surpassed the 20-million-ton milestone. LGOK HBI-1 is an HYL plant.
Thirty years after the start-up of module 2, production by LISCO’s two DRI modules and one HBI module in Misurata, Libya, continued restricted to less than 50% of rated capacity by factors outside the company’s control.
In its 15th anniversary year, after breaking monthly production records in 2019 and 2020, Nucor’s module in Trinidad and Tobago operated above rated capacity again in 2021. Nu-Iron surpassed the 20-million-ton milestone early in 2021 and operated ~5% below its annual production record established in 2019. Average metallization for the year was the highest of all MIDREX Plants, at over 96.3%, with 2.75% carbon in the DRI.
OEMK’s four MIDREX Modules set a new combined annual production record of 3.28 million tons in 2021, with Module 1 setting a new annual production record (averaging over 114 t/h), and the remaining three modules operating within 1.5-4.0% of their respective production records. All four modules operated an average of 8,363 hours, achieved through short duration annual shutdowns. Module 1 set a new monthly production record in March, and Module 4 set a monthly production record in July. Module 2 surpassed the 20-million-ton milestone in the 4th quarter of 2021.
Qatar Steel’s dual product (CDRI/HBI) Module 2 remained shut down for all of 2021 due to poor market demand, while Module 1 (CDRI only) operated within 10% of its production record. Qatar Steel’s Module 1 has produced over 28.3 million tons of DRI since its start-up in 1978, the most for a 5.0-meter shaft furnace.
SULB’s 1.5 million t/y combination module (simultaneous HDRI/ CDRI production) in Bahrain operated above rated capacity, with 1.2 million tons of HDRI going to the adjacent steel shop and over 180,000 tons exported by sea. The SULB module’s production was within 5% of its annual record, and it operated 8,158 hours in 2021.
In its 45th anniversary year, TenarisSiderca’s CDRI module in Argentina restarted production in February to satisfy the DRI demand from its steel shop. The module’s DRI metallization percentage was the second highest of all MIDREX Plants at 95.64%.
Tosyali Holding’s 2.5 million tons/year combination (HDRI/ CDRI) module, located in Bethioua, near Oran, Algeria set a new annual production record for the third consecutive year (more than 2.28 million tons in 2021), while operating just under 8,000 hours. Over 69% of production went to the adjacent steel shop as HDRI. Together with Algerian Qatari Steel (AQS), this is the largest capacity MIDREX Module built to date, with a 7.5 m diameter shaft furnace.
In its fifth year in operation, the production from the 2.0 million t/y HBI module located near Corpus Christi, Texas, USA was 9% less than its production record set in 2019. (Editor’s note: voestalpine Texas was a 100% subsidiary of voestalpine AG in Austria through 2021. In April 2022, Arcelor- Mittal became majority shareholder, acquiring 80% stake in the HBI plant.)