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World DRI production up by 12%

Archiv – World production of direct reduced iron (DRI) exceeded 45 million tonnes last year – a new record high, according to data compiled by Midrex Technologies, the U.S. supplier of DRI process know-how. The year’s output represented a 12% increase over 2001 when production fell because of weak demand and high gas prices.World production of direct reduced iron (DRI) exceeded 45 million tonnes last year – a new record high, according to data compiled by Midrex Technologies, the U.S. supplier of DRI process know-how. The year’s output represented a 12% increase over 2001 when production fell because of weak demand and high gas prices.
Midrex said last year’s growth was spurred principally by the recovery in prices for furnace feed. What it termed an ’extraordinary’ increase in the value of iron units was attributed to strong growth in China and some other Asian countries. ’This can be viewed as the long-awaited recovery from the Asian crisis in 1997, which had precipitated the longest and deepest trough in iron prices in over a century,’ Midrex says. Beginning at the low point of summer 2001 and continuing to the winter of 2002-2003, the price of some common grades of scrap steel nearly tripled in Far Eastern markets. The effect was felt around the world and fostered increased iron production almost everywhere.
Next, there was unprecedented growth in India’s coal-based DRI production. The higher value of the iron product led to a remarkable increase in capacity utilisation by numerous rotary kiln plants as well as the commissioning of some capacity that had been delayed. Indian coal-based DRI production in 2002 was 35% higher than in 2001. Also, there was some recovery in North America (including Mexico) from the spike in natural gas prices experienced in 2001. Although gas prices remained quite volatile, North America’s DRI production was 46% higher last year compared to 2001.
Higher prices also initiated more trade in DRI and HBI. Some 11.3 million tonnes was transported in 2002 – a 20% increase over 2001 – of which 57% was shipped as HBI, while the remainder was DRI. Sea-borne trade grew to over 6.7 million tonnes, of which HBI comprised 76%.
Midrex forecasts continued growth in 2003 in response to favourable prices for iron production. However, following such a long period of extremely low prices, no new capacity has been contracted and, therefore, production increases will result from improved capacity utilisation rather than from the commissioning of new capacity. Thus, for this year, only moderate growth is expected.
Midrex Technologies is an international process engineering and technology company that provides global process technology solutions to various industries and is principally known for the MIDREX Direct Reduction Process that converts iron ore into a high-purity DRI or HBI for use in steelmaking, ironmaking and foundry applications.

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