A construction licence agreement between Kobe Steel of Japan and Paul Wurth SA of Luxembourg, part of the SMS Group, means that the SMS Group will be able to design and erect MIDREX Direct Reduction plants around the world.

Kobe Steel claims that the MIDREX direct reduction process is regarded as 'the industry's most productive technology' for making high-quality direct reduced iron (DRI).

DRI and HBI (Hot Briquetted Iron) are both used as feedstock for the steelmaking industry. Increased global demand for DRI products is fuelling interest in direct reduction plants worldwide.

For the SMS Group, the signing of a construction licence with Kobe Steel provides another string to its bow. The SMS Group is already a leading player in developing and manufacturing steel processing equipment.

Kobe Steel's senior officer, Shohei Manabe, believes that Paul Wurth is 'an ideal choice' as a MIDREX construction partner. The Luxembourg-based company joins Siemens Vai and Midrex Technologies who are already construction licensees.

Specific licences are assigned by Kobe Steel for each MIDREX plant around the world. MIDREX is claimed to be the most widely used DRI process, accounting for roughly 80% of the world's annual gas-based DRI production and 60% of the world's total annual production.

"In addition to the gas-based MiDREX process, the MXCOL process uses synthetic gas made from coal or coke oven gas in combination with MIDREX Direct Reduction Plant," said Kobe Steel.

Bearing in mind that Paul Wurth is a leading player in the world of coke-making technology, the company has a lot to offer 'the MIDREX family of partners', according to Kobe.

The MXCOL process is targetted at regions of the world where abundant, inexpensive natural gas is unavailable for direct reduction.