Pig iron producers to feel heat from DRI boom

Jun 04, 2013 | 11:32 AM | Juan Weik

Tags  Nucor, Tulachermet, Donetskstal, Gerdau, ArcelorMittal, Votorantim, Brazil pig iron, CIS pig iron direct-reduced iron

MEXICO CITY — Nucor Corp.’s move into production of direct-reduced iron (DRI) in the United States is expected to reduce global trade flows of pig iron into the country, affecting producers from Brazil and, to a lesser extent, Russia and Ukraine.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based steelmaker, which already has a 2-million-ton-per-year DRI facility in Trinidad and Tobago, plans to commission its 2.5-million-ton DRI plant in Louisiana in the latter part of this year’s third quarter.

This will further diminishing the company’s need for third-party scrap and scrap substitutes, such as pig iron and hot-briquetted iron (HBI).

"We anticipate being at full production (in Louisiana) by the end of the year," a Nucor spokeswoman told AMM sister publication Steel First May 28.

Nucor plans to build as many as three other DRI units at the same site, as well expand an existing plant in South Carolina, because access to affordable natural gas energy has heightened interest in DRI production in North America.

"The plant in Louisiana will definitely affect imports of pig iron into the U.S., as Nucor is the biggest importer here," one U.S.-based pig iron trader said.

A second U.S. trader agreed. "I think 60 to 70 percent of the pig iron imported into the U.S. goes to Nucor, and their pig iron requirements will surely go down (after the Louisiana plant comes on-stream)," he said. ....

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