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Metalloinvest, Primetals and Midrex lay solid foundations for green metallurgy development

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Metalloinvest signed a contract with a consortium of Primetals Technologies and Midrex Technologies for the supply of equipment for a new complex for the production of hot briquetted iron (HBI-4) at Lebedinsky GOK (Gubkin, Belgorod Region).

The design capacity will be 2.08 million tonnes of HBI per year. The use of modern technologies will ensure a reduction in energy consumption and environmental impact.

The volume of investments in the construction of the complex is estimated at more than 600 million US dollars. 375 highly qualified jobs will be created in Gubkin. The launch of production is scheduled for the first quarter of 2025 (the first product is in December 2024).

HBI is a low-carbon raw material used for steel production in electric furnaces, while direct and indirect CO2 emissions (scope 1 + scope 2) are up to 50% lower than with a traditional process combining a blast furnace cycle and oxygen converter steel smelting.

The new plant is being designed with the prospect of a complete transition to the use of hydrogen instead of natural gas in the iron reduction process, which will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Midrex Technologies and Primetals Technologies will be responsible for the engineering and supply of the main technological equipment, and the provision of supervision services.

The agreement was signed by Metalloinvest CEO Nazim Efendiev, Midrex President and CEO Stephen Montague, Primetals Executive Vice President Ashish Gupta and Primetals CEO Hirai Etsuro. The document was signed at the meeting of the Mixed Russian-Austrian Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation in Vienna.

Earlier this year, the Mikhailovsky HBI (MBBI), set up by the USM Group and the Mikhailovsky GOK of Metalloinvest, signed a contract with Midrex and Primetals to build a similar HBI plant in Zheleznogorsk, Kursk region.

The additional capacity will help strengthen Metalloinvest's leadership in the global market for commercial HBI.

“The launch of two new units will almost double the HBI production capacity of USM and Metalloinvest - from 4.6 to 9 million tonnes per year. This will strengthen our position as a leading supplier of a key product for the transition to green steel production and will be a significant milestone in the decarbonization of the steel industry. We highly value the experience of our partners Primetals and Midrex and are confident that thanks to our joint efforts, the project will be successfully implemented on schedule, ”commented Nazim Efendiev, CEO of Metalloinvest.

Midrex President and CEO Stephen Montague said: “The launch of the HBI-4 module at LGOK will help meet the growing demand for low carbon footprint metals. Our technology, which allows us to switch to the use of hydrogen as a reducing agent, is the right step towards green metallurgy and carbon neutrality. "

Primetals CEO Hirai Etsuro emphasized: “Using HBI helps steel producers reduce their carbon footprint while increasing their competitiveness. Together with the companies of Alisher Usmanov, we create the basis for the development and confident movement forward of the European "green" metallurgy. "

In 2007 and 2017, Metalloinvest, Primetals and Midrex successfully implemented projects for the construction of the second and third modules for HBI production at Lebedinsky GOK, with a capacity of 1.4 million and 1.8 million tons per year, respectively. Currently, the three operating HBI plants at Lebedinsky GOK produce 4.6 million tonnes per year.

The new plant will be built using the latest technologies, including an energy efficient and high performance shaft furnace with increased gas pressure, a reformer with a NOx reduction system, a fines recirculation system, an intelligent control system, a backup fan for dust collection and scrubbers to remove steam.

The plant will produce high quality HBI using the natural gas-based direct reduction process Midrex NG, the most environmentally friendly iron production technology. Compared to blast furnace iron smelting, Midrex NG's carbon footprint is 50% lower. In the future, replacing natural gas with "green" hydrogen will achieve even greater emission reductions.

For reference:

The use of HBI is one of the most promising trends in the development of world metallurgy. The demand for HBI is increasing due to the growing demand for the production of high quality electric steel, the decline in the quality of scrap metal and the tightening of environmental requirements. The main drivers of demand are the increased production of electric steel, especially in Europe and China.

According to experts, global steel production in 2030 will increase by 17% by 2020, to more than 2 billion tons. More than 95% of the increase will come from steel smelting in electric furnaces. Global consumption of hot briquetted and direct reduced iron is projected to grow in 2030

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