Such is the impact of low gas prices in USA following the exploitation of shale gas plays coupled with the pending cost penalties for CO2 emissions in Europe, that Austrian steelmaker voestalpine is to build a DRI plant in Texas to produce hot briquetted iron (HBI) to ship across the Atlantic and up the Danube as part of the charge for its blast furnaces in Linz and Donawitz.

Voestalpine have selected Midrex Technologies, Inc to build the 2Mt/y module along with Siemens Industry Inc, USA, as consortium partner.

The plant will be constructed near the city of Corpus Christi, Texas. It is designed to produce 2Mt/y of HBI, making it the largest single module of this type world-wide. The order value is in the three-digit million euro range. The plant is due to begin operations in late 2015.

The requirements for DRI/HBI for blast furnaces are less stringent than for DRI charged to electric arc furnaces as the blast furnace can accept a lower degree of metallisation.