Japanese group Kobe Steel has received an investment license from Vietnam to proceed with a feasibility study to construct four ITmk3 ironmaking plants.

The 2.4Mt/y plants will be located in Vietnam’s Nghe An Province. The total project cost is estimated to be $1bn.

Kobe is considering the formation of a business in Vietnam to produce and market iron nuggets using the next-generation ITmk3 ironmaking process.

The ITMk3 process is a coal based rotary hearth process offering lower CO2 emissions than a blast furnace.

It produces an iron ‘nugget’ which has melted and solidified during the process producing an iron grade similar to pig iron and ideal for charging to an EAF.

The group is aiming for first-phase construction to begin in January 2011.