Crude Steel production in India is expected to increase from the current 70 million tonnes (Mt) to around 100-110Mt by 2013. A further increase to 180-200Mt by 2020-2025 is foreseen.

Growth in steel production in India is based on the rich reserves of iron ore, substantial amount of non-coking coal and the increasing availability of natural gas. About 60% of iron ore fines are generated during the mining of ore and sizing to lump – the present favoured blast furnace feed in India – and to utilise these fines, many pelletising plants are being installed, mainly in Eastern India.

Also, to make use of India’s high ash coal in the absence of sufficient reserves of coking coal, coal gasification is being introduced to supply gas for gas-based DRI production. This is an interesting development, particularly since India is already the largest producer of DRI in the world, with over half of this produced using coal in rotating kilns.

India’s steel industry has never been shy of using new technology. Back in the 1950s it was the second country in the world to introduce the oxygen converter. Today, many alternative technologies are in use or being considered as a means of exploiting the country’s non-coking coal for the production of hot metal using smelting reduction processes. Two of the world’s largest Corex units are employed at Essar Steel’s 10Mt/y plant at Hazira in Gujarat and the gas from these is used to produce DRI in the world’s largest gas-based DRI module. Melting takes place in the Conarc furnace which combines the technology of the electric arc furnace with that of the oxygen converter.

The very newest technologies are also under investigation. Finex technology, a development on Corex which enables ore fines to be used, is to be the technology of choice at Posco’s planned 6Mt/y plant in Orissa, and SAIL recently signed an agreement with Kobe Steel to consider the use of Kobe’s ITmk3 rotary hearth technology to produce ‘iron nuggets’, an ideal charge for electric arc furnaces.

Traditional integrated steel plants in India are installing some of the world’s largest blast furnaces with working volumes of over 4000m3. State owned miner, NMDC plans to build India’s largest blast furnace with an internal volume of 4506m3 at Nagarnar, Chhattisgarh state central east India to produce 3Mt/y of steel. At the same time, NMDC has also signed an agreement with Severstal of Russia to build a second 3Mt/y plant in the south of India, in the ore rich state of Karnataka.

As well as building greenfield sites, such as Tata Steels new 10Mt/y works presently under construction at Kalinganagar, Orissa state, major modifications are being made at all integrated steel plants to make them globally competitive not only in terms of costs but also in their environmental footprints and sustainability credentials.

Steel production in India is carried out using a panorama of different processes. In addition to the conventional Blast Furnace – Oxygen Steelmaking route, there is Corex direct smelting, already referred to, the electric arc furnace for melting scrap and DRI, and the country has over 900 small electric induction furnaces to melt coal based produced DRI.

Steel Times International in conjunction with Kolkata based Steel Tech are organising a conference and exhibition on 3-4 September at the Oberoi Grand Kolkata.

If you are interested in happenings in the dynamic steel industry of India make a note in your diary to keep these dates free.

Further information will be available on a dedicated web site in the near future. Meanwhile, if you wish to be kept informed of details of the conference and Expo e-mail your interest to steel@quartzltd.com with the subject Steel Tech Seminar