Source: Steelguru - 15 Aug 2007
The Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Nippon Steel Corp's Yahata steel works at Kitakyushu will use only low quality iron ore from around 2010 as it now has the technology to use the low quality ore to cut costs. The report added that Nippon Steel also plans to increase the proportion of low quality iron core used at other plants to increase competitiveness.
For the process of solidifying iron ore before it is placed in a blast furnace, Nippon Steel has developed a new ingredient to replace calcium oxide to prevent low quality iron core from breaking up, allowing the firm to cut costs by about 40%.
As from October 2004, Nippon Steel used the iron ore at the Yahata factory and has raised the proportion used to 50%. After ensuring the low quality material is not affecting the quality of the final steel products, Nippon Steel will increase the ratio of low quality iron core used at Yahata to 100% by around 2010.
Low quality iron ore is difficult to use as a material, and steel makers have found it a challenge to find good uses for the ore, which accounts for 80% of iron ore reserves and only about 20% of iron ore reserves are high quality.
With demand for steel growing due to the economic growth in rapidly developing countries including China, prices for a ton of high quality Australian iron core have surged in last 5 years.