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Vale's new Brazil pellet unit to feed US DRI plants: chief

Keywords: Tags  Vale, Tubarão VII, pellet plant, Murilo Ferreira, direct-reduced iron, DRI, Exposibram International Mining Exhibition, 15th Brazilian Mining COngress steel

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Output at Vale SA’s Tubarão VII pellet plant in Brazil will feed new direct-reduced iron (DRI) plants in the United States, chief executive officer Murilo Ferreira said Sept. 24.

"We will support the revival of the North American steel industry," he said at the Exposibram International Mining Exhibition and 15th Brazilian Mining Congress in Belo Horizonte.

"The North American steel industry is being stimulated by a new energy (trend) named shale gas," Ferreira said.

The United States has extensive reserves of natural gas trapped within shale rock formations, and steelmakers in the country are looking for new ways to use this low-cost energy in the steel production process. DRI plants can use either natural gas or coal in the iron production process and have lower operating costs than integrated steel works.

Vale is in talks with U.S. industry participants regarding offtake agreements, Ferreira said, without disclosing any further details on the companies involved.

Rio de Janeiro-based Vale currently doesn’t export any pellet tonnages to the U.S. market, he said.

The 7.5 million–tonne-per-year Tubarão VII pellet plant, in Brazil’s Espírito Santo state, is scheduled to come on-stream by December, following a $1.08-billion investment, Vale said.

A version of this article was first published in AMM sister publication Steel First.

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