Primetals, Fortescue form Austria-based ironmaking plant joint venture

Primetals Technologies, Mitsubishi Corporation, Fortescue, and voestalpine have joined up to design and engineer an industrial-scale prototype plant with a new process for net-zero-emission ironmaking at voestalpine’s home in Linz, Austria.

The new ironmaking process will be based on Primetals’ HYFOR and Smelter solutions. According to Primetals, HYFOR is the world’s first direct reduction process for iron ore fines that will not require any agglomeration steps, like sintering or pelletising. A pilot plant has been in operation since the end of 2021, and Primetals has run numerous test campaigns over the last year including trials on Fortescue’s Pilbara iron ore products.

The new Smelter technology from Primetals is a furnace powered by electrical energy, Kallanish learns from the plantbuilder. It is used for melting and final reduction of direct reduced iron based on lower-grade iron ores. In that way, it produces alternative green hot metal for the steelmaking plant, Primetals claims.

Fortescue’s main responsibility in the new project is to provide knowledge about iron ore quality and preparation. In addition, it will supply various iron ores for the new plant.
The main goal of the project planning phase is to develop the basis for decision to realise a prototype plant capable of continuous operation, and to gain the know-how for a full-scale commercial plant.

Christian Koehl Germany