July 31st (Steel Guru) – BNamericas reported that Brazilian miner Vale is in the process of selecting a construction firm for its Carajas iron ore processing plant expansion project, located in the state of Para in northern Brazil.

The USD 2.48 billion project, “Carajas 130,” will add 30 million tonnes per year to the current capacity of 100 million tonnes per year. Minerconsult Engenharia Limitada, a part of the Canadian engineering group SNC Lavalin, is providing engineering services.

May 24 (Business Standard) – The HIsmelt Corporation, a unit of global mining major Rio Tinto, is in talks with four Indian companies including the state-owned National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), for licensing technology to produce steel using low grade iron ore and non-coking coal.

These are among the 50 companies worldwide, most of whom belong to China, from which the Australian company has received enquires for technology transfer, said managing director Stephan Weber.

The technology, designed to use normal coal and iron ore fines, will reduce the project cost of an integrated steel plant by about 10 per cent in China, 20 per cent in India and 30 per cent in western countries by doing away with the need for setting up a sinter plant and coke oven units. It will further cut down the operational costs of steel mills by 10 to 20 per cent.

The process has relatively high tolerance for ores with higher phosphorus and alumina content, thus making it advantageous to India where the iron ore is contaminated by these elements. Being a compact unit, it requires less land for operational purposes.

This can come in handy for countries such as India where land acquisition problems have stalled many projects, Weber said and added that harmful greenhouse gas emissions from the company’s plant near Perth has been lower compared to conventional steel plants.

HIsmelt’s Manager, Technical and Sales, Brian McDonald, is visiting India in 10 days to hold talks with some Indian companies who have shown an interest in the technology.

The company has already signed technology license agreements with two Chinese companies, Laiwu Steel and Huaigang and conducted full feasibility studies for 10 more projects, mostly in China.

“A full feasibility study for an Indian company is on the cards”, Weber pointed out. He, however, did not reveal the names of the Indian companies which have shown an interest in the new technology.

One of the key features of this process is that it can use waste such as scrap and fines to produce hot metal. So it can not only be used for greenfield projects, but can also supplement the efforts of existing plants to ramp up their capacities, Weber observed.

The process involves setting up a vessel, instead of a blast furnace, for directly charging normal coal (with up to 40 per cent volatile material) and iron ore fines from the sides with hot air blast from the top and for tapping hot metal and slag at the bottom after reducing the iron. Since this method is a replacement for blast furnaces, companies that have blast furnace repair and relining round the corner can switch over.

However, the company has perfected the technology over a 6 metre diameter vessel, capable of producing 8,00,000 tonnes of hot metal annually, whereas most of the big companies are looking at much larger capacities.

Plans are afoot to test the technology on a 8-metre diameter vessel with a facility for pre-heating the charged material which can take the annual hot metal capacity to two million tonnes. Similarly, with addition of a Circofer plant, the same size vessel can give an output of 4 million tonnes.

Pointing out that Rio Tinto has spent about 1 billion dollars over the last 20 years to perfect the technology used in HIsmelt’s 8,00,000 tonne per annum pig iron plant near Perth for the last two years, Weber said HIsmelt has the sole proprietary right of the technology although the pig iron plant has been established with equity contributions from Nucor (25 per cent), Mitsubishi (10 per cent) and Shougan Steel (5 per cent).

Apart from the technology transfer, HIsmelt intends to facilitate the construction of projects by referring the clients to its panel of accredited EPC contractors and equipment manufacturers.