Russian steelmaker NLMK Group, an international company with operations in Russia, the European Union and the USA, has implemented pulverised coal injection (PCI) technology at 90% of its blast furnace capacities at NLMK Lipetsk and has launched hot-testing of the PCI unit at Blast Furnace No. 7, which has a capacity of 4.3Mt/yr.

PCI technology involves co-injecting natural gas and fine coal particles into the blast furnace, resulting in reduced coke consumption, NLMK explains. “Replacing expensive raw materials with cheaper alternatives, such as switching from coking coal to steam coal, reduces the cost of pig iron production by approximately 5%,” the company explains.

According to NLMK, PCI volume will be no less than 150kg/t of pig iron. The Lipetsk complex is equipped with two coal pulveriser and dryer systems each with a capacity of 75tonnes/hr.

NLMK group vice president for investment projects, Konstantin Lagutin, said that the company was completing one of the key Strategy 2017 projects aimed at significantly cutting costs and optimizing raw material consumption. “With a fourth blast furnace at NLMK Lipetsk being equipped with a PCI system, over 90% of the plant’s blast furnace capacities will now be covered by this resource-saving technology,” he said.

The move will decrease consumption of expensive coke by 30% and natural gas by 50%, according to Lagutin.

NLMK claims that PCI is being implemented at NLMK’s blast furnaces in turn. Previously, it was introduced at Blast Furnace No. 5 (2.7Mt this year) and Blast Furnace No. 4 (1.8Mt/yr). Hot-testing at Blast Furnace No. 6 (3.1Mt/yr) began last month.

Start-up of the PCI units at Blast Furnaces 6 and 7 is scheduled for Q3 2017. PCI project capex for the two blast furnaces exceeded 6.8 billion rubles (US$98.5 million).