The world’s total DRI production in 2011 reached 73.3Mt, up 4% on 2010 and setting yet another new record for the industry according to data compiled by Midrex Technologies, Inc.

Growth slowed in some areas of the world, but in other regions increased production more than counteracted this decline. Although last year’s production rose about 3Mt from 2010’s total production of 70.4Mt it marks nearly a 9Mt increase from the 2009’s 64.Mt.

In the natural gas fueled sector of the industry, in 2011 Midrex Direct Reduction Plants once again led all technologies producing 44.4Mt, followed by HyL-Danieli Energiron plants, which produced 11.1Mt.

Finmet, represented by a single unit of 2.2Mt/y capacity at Orinoco Iron, Venezuela, made over 500kt. The remaining 17.3Mt was produced using various coal based rotary kiln technologies found in India and in other areas of the world. Complete data is available for download from the Midrex web site at http://www.midrex.com/uploads/documents/MidrexStats2011-6.7.12.pdf

Four nations experienced significant growth. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) saw an increase of 1.1Mt, and Venezuela made 0.7Mt more than the previous year. Mexico increased by 0.5Mt and Russia saw an increase of 0.4Mt.

In the UAE, the growth was primarily due to the startup of a new plant at Emirates Steel combined with the ramping up toward full production by another plant at the same steel works. Venezuela’s growth is reflective of a partial recovery from a prolonged decline in production due to political and governmental factors that the DR industry experienced over the past five years. In Mexico, the growth was primarily attributed to general economic recovery from the financial crisis as both Mexico and its major market, the United States, continued their economic recoveries. Russia’s growth came from a general increase in the capacity of six existing plants as they outperformed their prior best by over 8%.

Nations where there was significant decline included India, which produced 22Mt, a drop of 1.45Mt in 2011 than in 2010 but the country still remains the world’s largest producer. The decline was due to some plants being unable to obtain as much iron ore as they needed due to governmental restrictions on mining. In addition, governmental allocations were placed on natural gas that gave higher priority to electric power generation and to ammonia (fertilizer) production than to the manufacture of iron and steel.

Output in Libya fell by 0.8Mt. Libya’s decline was a result of the national revolution which affected all aspects of the country. The DRI facilities at LISCO shuttered their plants early in the year and had not restarted by the end of the year, but have resumed operation.

Altogether 2011 was up by 4% (2.87Mt) over 2010’s data. This was the ninth year out of the past ten that a new world production record was established.

Gas based production grew by 7% from 52.3Mt in 2010 to 55.9Mt in 2011 but coal based production (mainly in India) by the rotary kiln processes shrank by 5% from 18.1Mt to 17.3Mt.
Iran ranked second in global production making 10.4Mt. Mexico was the third top producer with production of 5.9Mt, well above 2010, but still well below their all time peak of 6.5Mt in 2004. Saudi Arabia and Russia were fourth and fifth respectively. These five nations produced more than two-thirds of the world’s supply of DRI.