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Primetals, Midrex and Metalloinvest lay solid foundation for development of green steelmaking

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Author: Sarah Holtkamp

Primetals, Midrex and Metalloinvest lay solid foundation for development of green steelmaking
Midrex HBI plants HBI-2 and HBI-3 at Lebedinsky GOK. HBI-4 will be built on the green field on the rear left side of this picture.©Metalloinvest

Metalloinvest has contracted with Primetals Technologies and consortium partner Midrex Technologies, Inc. to supply the new HBI Plant (HBI-4) at Lebedinsky GOK (LGOK). The plant will be located in Gubkin, Russia. It will be designed to produce 2.08 mn metric tonnes of HBI per year. Its modern design features will ensure reduced energy consumption and environmental impact. Investment in the construction of the plant is estimated at over USD 600 mn.

The project will create 375 highly qualified jobs and is expected to become operational in the first half of 2025.

HBI is a low-carbon raw material used for steel production in electric furnaces. It generates up to 50 % less CO₂ (scope 1 + scope 2) than the traditional blast-furnace method. The contracted plant can be converted to use up to 100 % hydrogen as a reducing agent. This makes possible further reduction of CO₂ emissions. Midrex and Primetals Technologies will be responsible for engineering, supply of main technological equipment. Also they will supervise the services.

The agreement was signed by Nazim Efendiev, CEO of Metalloinvest, Stephen Montague, President and CEO of Midrex, Aashish Gupta, Executive Vice president of Primetals, and Etsuro Hirai, CEO of Primetals. It was decided during an official forum between Austrian and Russian governmental delegations in Vienna. Earlier this year Mikhailovsky HBI contracted Midrex and Primetals for another HBI plant to be built in Russia.

Additional production volume will secure Metalloinvest’s leading position on global HBI market.

Nazim Efendiev, CEO of Metalloinvest, said: “Two new facilities will double joint production capacity of USM and Metalloinvest – from 4,6 to 9 ml tonnes of HBI per year. This will strengthen our position as a leading provider of this crucial element in the transition to greener steel production. That is a significant milestone in the global steel industry’s decarbonisation efforts. We highly appreciate the expertise of our partners Primetals and Midrex. We are looking forward to jointly implementing the project according to our tight deadlines”.

Stephen Montague, President and CEO of Midrex said: “HBI-4 will further increase Metalloinvest’s dominant position to supply merchant HBI to meet the growing demand for low-CO2 metallics. Our H2-ready technology is the right step towards green steelmaking and carbon neutrality”.

Etsuro Hirai, CEO of Primetals Technologies Austria said: “HBI helps steel producers to reduce the carbon footprint of their products while increasing its competitiveness. Together with Alisher Usmanov’s companies, we are creating the basis for the development and steady movement forward of the European green metallurgy”.

Metalloinvest, Primetals Technologies and Midrex Technologies have successfully implemented 1.4 MTPY HBI plant (HBI-2) and 1.8 MTPY HBI plant (HBI-3).

The first was started up in 2007, the second one in 2017. All three currently operational HBI modules at Lebedinsky GOK (HBI-1, HBI-2 and HBI-3) jointly produce 4.6 mn tonnes HBI per year. The new contract once again proves MIDREX® Direct Reduction Technology as the leading technology in the market with a market share of 80 %.

The new plant includes a 7.15m diameter MIDREX Shaft Furnace and a proprietary MIDREX Reformer that uses low NOx burners for NOx reduction. An increased top gas pressure ensures higher furnace productivity and reduced power consumption. A flue gas hot fan additionally reduces electric power consumption. Also, a hot fines recycling system will be included. The level 1 and level 2 automation systems are also part of the project. They include the DRIpax expert system,

The MIDREX Plant produces high-quality HBI from iron ore pellets using the natural gas-based MIDREX Direct Reduction Process (MIDREX NG). This is the most environmentally friendly technology for ore-based ironmaking. Compared to traditional ironmaking technologies, the carbon footprint of a MIDREX NG plant is reduced by more than 50 %. The comparisson is made with blast furnace ironmaking. By replacing natural gas with green hydrogen, there is potential to further decrease carbon emissions in the future. The contracted plant is capable of being converted in the future to use up to 100% hydrogen as a reducing agent.