LONDON Direct-reduced iron (DRI) output could exceed 200 million tonnes annually between 2025 and 2030 as global gas-based metals production increases, according to Midrex Technologies Inc.
World DRI production stood at 74 million tonnes in 2012. That was up 1 percent year on year as relatively new plants started ramping up to capacity, Charlotte, N.C.-based DRI technology provider Midrex said in early July.
The sluggish growth was mainly due to raw materials disruptions in India, the worlds largest DRI-producing country.
Iron ore shortages due to regional mining bans and higher natural gas prices due to increased demand saw Indias DRI production fall 9 percent year on year to 20.05 million tonnes in 2012.
Excluding India, however, world DRI output grew 5.3 percent in 2012, although the slow recovery from the global financial crisis in some advanced economies and political strife stifled the growth, according to Midrex.
However, increases in natural gas supplies and improvements in shale gas production technologies are likely to accelerate growth in DRI output in the longer term, it added.
"The movement to monetize the penalties for (carbon dioxide) generation is gathering momentum, and within the next decade or so is expected to have a worldwide (impact) as more integrated mills will begin to use (hot-briquetted iron)," Midrex said.
In North America, low-cost shale gas is already leading companies to boost DRI capacity, with Charlotte-based Nucor Corp. due to start output at its 2.5-million-tonne-per-year DRI plant in Louisiana in the current quarter.
Many shaft furnace plants are under construction and due to add 20 million tonnes of DRI output in 2013-14.
The average increase in DRI output is likely to be 5 million to 6 million tonnes per year between 2013 and 2015, Midrex estimates, adding that political and economic factors in the plant locations might make it difficult to maintain start-up schedules.
Irans Gol Gohar Iron Ore Co. and Egypts Ezz Steel Co. SAE are among the many companies in the Middle East and North Africa region eyeing near-term DRI output.
A version of this article was first published in AMM sister publication Steel First.