Steel group ArcelorMittal expects new global blast furnace capacity to help retain demand for coking coal, coke and iron ore, as scrap-based steelmaking expands to take a bigger share in crude steel production, the group’s chief technology executive said Wednesday.
Carbon-based steelmaking and coke is “key” for the steel industry, with blast furnace ironmaking still the most economic route for primary steelmaking, Carl de Mare, ArcelorMittal’s VP and head of technology strategy, told the Eurocoke conference in Dusseldorf.
Scrap generation is increasing supply globally, with Europe already at high rates or rising, and this will spur construction of new electric arc furnaces and output from mini-mills to expand their share, he said.
Steel demand will remain supported for decades to allow lower utilization rates in parts of the world to catch up with developed nations, he said.
“During decades to come, we’ll still need iron ore blast furnace reduction technology,” de Mare said.
“At a minimum, current levels of iron making need to be maintained for decades to come.”
Around three quarters of global crude steel production was supplied via the blast furnace route in 2016, according to the latest data from the World Steel Association. China’s industry size and preference for blast furnace plants pushes up the metric, while China is utilizing more scrap. In the US, electric arc furnaces output makes up around two thirds of output.
He highlighted the need to cut blast furnace costs to maintain efficiency, and for coke and iron ore to generate more value from waste.
For blast furnace coke, a need to increase specifications around coke strength is key to ensure there is an economic way to allow for PCI injection to increase, he said.
PCI replaces coke, with the degree of replacement dependent on technical factors, coke and iron ore burden quality and technology implementation.
ArcelorMittal is aiming to reduce coke usage to below 200kg/mt of blast furnace iron, which is contingent on boosting coke strength, he said.
ArcelorMittal is the world’s largest steel producer, with multiple blast furnaces in Europe and the Americas, as well as electric arc furnaces mills.