Pulverised coal injection (PCI) at NLMK Group’s Novolipetsk site in Lipetsk has saved the company 425 million rubles, it is claimed.

PCI lowers natural gas and coke consumption by replacing it with steam coal, which reduces the cost of pig iron production and subsequently that of steel production while maintaining high quality and efficiency, claims NLMK.

The PCI process is employed on two of the Novolipetsk blast furnaces and was first introduced at Lipetsk in 2013. After tests the Russian steelmaker has introduced commercial operation of the process in its blast furnaces 4 and 5 where it produces 3Mt and 2Mt per year respectively.

During the testing period, these two furnaces decreased coke consumption by 10% and natural gas by 40%, NLMK claims.

According to the Novolipetsk managing director Sergey Filatov, more than a third of the plant’s blast furnaces have been fitted with PCI systems. “We continue to work on enhancing the efficiency and cutting the cost of pig iron production,” he said, adding that the plan is to equip almost all Novolipetsk blast furnaces with PCI systems.

Furnaces 6 and 7 – the plant’s largest blast furnaces with respective capacities of 3.2Mt and 4.2Mt – are being prepared for PCI and the aim is to reduce coke consumption by 20% and natural gas by 60%.

Improved pig iron smelting technology has increased productivity at all of the plant’s blast furnaces, NLMK claims. Daily pig iron output has increased by 2.3% year-on-year to reach an average of 36kt.

The plant’s blast furnace 7 increased production by 15.1% to almost 12kt.