February global DRI production jumps: worldsteel

February global direct reduced iron (DRI) production was up year-on-year, Kallanish discovers from World Steel Association data.

February worldsteel data show DRI output at 8.6 million tonnes, down 11.2% month-on-month but higher by 7.6% on-year. By far the biggest producer of the 13-country group was India, with DRI production up 17.9% y-o-y to 4.2mt.

World DRI production experienced rapid growth in recent years as the push to decarbonise the steel industry accelerated. Data from worldsteel shows annual DRI production in 2023 of 136.4mt, up 65.3% compared with 2014 levels. The International Energy Association’s Sustainable Development Scenario forecasts 2050 DRI production at 411mt.

Part of the demand push for DRI comes from the goal to reduce CO2 emissions in the steelmaking industry by 80-95% by 2050. More and more companies around the globe are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint and pursuing direct reduction projects.

The current consensus based on industry and science is that DRI in electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmaking can go a long way toward carbon-neutral production. There is also a growing trend of using hydrogen as a reductant in the DRI process.

There is concern in the industry regarding the quality of iron ore supplies. According to a report from the Iron Metallics Association, ore used for DRI production through an EAF needs an iron content of at least 66%. It takes 1.45t of iron ore to produce one tonne of DRI.

For perspective, February world crude steel production totalled 148.8mt, an increase of 3.7% compared with year-ago levels.

John Isaacson USA