Primetals and Midrex sign contract for world´s largest HBI plant

by David Fleschen

Mikhailovsky HBI, which was jointly established by USM and Mikhailovsky GOK (part of Metalloinvest), signed a contract with Primetals Technologies and consortium partner Midrex Technologies, Inc. to supply a new Hot Briquetted Iron (HBI) Plant in Zheleznogorsk, Kursk region, Russia. The plant is designed to produce 2.08 million metric tons of HBI per year. Latest design features ensure reduced energy consumption and environmental impact. The contract includes engineering, supplies and advisory services. Startup is expected in the first half of 2024.

The agreement was signed by Pavel Mitrofanov, Deputy CEO of USM; Stephen Montague, President and CEO of Midrex; Etsuro Hirai, Chief Technology Officer of Primetals Technologies and CEO of Primetals Technologies Austria; and Aashish Gupta, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Business Unit – Upstream, Primetals Technologies.

Ivan Streshinsky, CEO of USM, said: “This is the start of an important project for the Russian metals and mining industry that will further strengthen our country’s leadership in the global market for hot briquetted iron (HBI), the base product for the green metallurgy of the future. One of the world’s largest HBI plants will be built and commissioned in close technological cooperation with Metalloinvest.”

“Mikhailovsky HBI project will help fill the growing demand for low CO2 metallics that our industry desperately needs,” Stephen Montague, President and CEO of Midrex said. “We are proud of our contribution in development of HBI production and the role that Midrex plays in helping steelmakers to decarbonize.”

“Previously we have successfully completed HBI 2 and HBI 3 at Lebedinsky GOK. That Primetals Technologies and Midrex have been selected by Mikhailovsky HBI as the technology supplier underscores trust in expertise of our specialists and in our solutions,” Etsuro Hirai, CEO of Primetals Technologies Austria said. “This project will include all the latest technological features and will be one of the largest and most modern HBI plants in the world.”

Nazim Efendiev, CEO of Management Company Metalloinvest, said: “Metalloinvest is the world leader in the market for merchant HBI. In 2020, almost 4.8 million metric tons of briquettes were shipped from Lebedinsky GOK. The Company will bring its accumulated experience in organising HBI production processes to ensure successful implementation of the project. Andrey Varichev Mikhailovsky GOK will be a supplier of high-quality iron ore for the new plant. It is vital that the new plant is designed based on the principles of carbon-free metallurgy, with the prospect of fully transitioning to the use of “green” hydrogen as a reducing agent. This project creates strong basis for further development of “green” metallurgy and active implementation of eco technologies of steel production in the industry”.

The new contract once again proves Midrex-based direct reduction technology as the leading technology in the market with a market share of 80%.

The new plant will be the largest HBI plant in the world and is equipped with the latest design features. The plant includes a 7.15m diameter Midrex shaft furnace, a 19-bay reformer with 280mm MA-1 reformer tubes and low NOx burners for NOx reduction. An increased top gas pressure ensures higher furnace productivity and reduced power consumption. A flue gas hot fan additionally reduces electric power consumption. Also, a hot fines recycling system will be included. The level 1 and level 2 automation systems, including the DRIpax expert system, are also part of the project.

Midrex and Primetals Technologies will be responsible for engineering and supply of mechanical and electrical equipment, steel structure, piping, ductwork, as well as for training and advisory services.

The Midrex plant produces high-quality HBI from iron ore pellets using the natural gas-based Midrex Direct Reduction Process (Midrex NG) – the most environmentally friendly technology for ore-based ironmaking. Compared to traditional ironmaking technologies, the carbon footprint of a Midrex NG plant is reduced by more than 50% compared with blast furnace ironmaking. By replacing natural gas with green hydrogen there is potential to further decrease carbon emissions in the future. The contracted plant is capable of being converted in the future to use up to 100% hydrogen as a reducing agent. The feed for the new HBI plant consists of pellets produced from Mikhailovsky GOK iron ore.

Investment in the construction of the plant is estimated at over 40 bn roubles excluding VAT. The project will create around 400 highly qualified jobs in Zheleznogorsk. Mikhailovsky HBI (55% owned by USM, 45% by Mikhailovsky GOK) will implement the project based on the principles of project financing.

Source and Photo: Midrex

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