/ GLOBAL DRIVERS FOR HIGH GRADE IRON ORE CONCENTRATE

Over the last decade, there has been structural shift in the global iron ore markets favouring higher-grade, lower-impurity iron ore products.

 

Generally, the lower the Fe grade of the iron-based feedstock, the higher the level of impurities such as phosphorus, silica, sulphur and alumina. More energy (i.e. coke) is required for blast furnaces to “slag-off” the impurities thereby generating more unwanted emissions and waste products.

The global community will continue to pressure industry to reduce environmental pollutants for the foreseeable future. This will result in a sustained demand from steelmakers for higher-grade, lower-impurity feedstock such as Razorback’s high grade iron ore concentrate.

  • Global Urbanisation and the Unprecedented Demand for Steel

    Steel is the world’s most important engineering and construction material. It is used in every aspect of our modern lives; in cars and construction products, refrigerators and washing machines, cargo ships and surgical scalpels.

    Steel is the most widely used metal in modern society. It is the primary building material and indicator for industrialisation, urbanisation and economic wealth.

    In 1950, two-thirds of the world’s population lived in rural areas. The United Nations predicts that urbanisation, the gradual shift of the human population from rural to urban areas, combined with the overall growth of the world’s population will add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050, with close to 90% of this increase taking place in Asia and Africa.

    The urbanisation of 2.5 billion people over the next few decades has resulted in the need to build the equivalent of a city the size of New York every month for the next 40 years.


    Conceptual Future City
  • China’s Flight to Quality

    China, the largest global producer, consumer and importer of iron ore, is in the process of restructuring its steelmaking industry to reduce pollution, cut excess steelmaking capacity and improve efficiency and safety.

    Operational efficiency in steelmaking requires the use of higher-quality feedstock. Quality higher-grade, lower-impurity feedstock produces more steel for each tonne used, with the added benefit of reducing steelmaking costs and emissions.China’s government-led initiative of reducing emissions and waste from low-tech steelmaking practices has led to the escalation of price differentials for quality between high- and low-grade iron ore products.

    This is resulting in a structural shift in the price gap between high grade and low-grade iron ore products.

    China’s shift towards higher-quality iron ore feedstock presents an opportunity for Magnetite Mines to become a leading global supplier of magnetite products to China’s steelmaking sector.


    Haze of pollution engulfing Wuhan, Hebei Province, where 25% of China’s crude steel is produced
  • Magnetite = Cleaner, Greener Steel

    Magnetite will play a key role in further reducing the global steel industry’s environmental footprint.

    Traditional steelmaking is energy-intensive, producing millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases (mostly carbon dioxide) every year. The steelmaking industry is one of the largest consumers of coal on the planet.

    Most of the iron and steel industry’s emissions occur during production of iron in the blast furnace, where coal and coke are used as fuel and as a reducing agent.

    Magnetite has low external fuel requirements during induration as it is exothermic, releasing latent energy in the form of heat as it oxidises. This quality reduces the production costs, increases productivity, improves competitiveness and leaves a smaller environmental footprint for steelmakers.


    Exothermic vs Endothermic
  • Reducing China’s Mountains of Slag

    Iron is extracted from iron ore in a blast furnace by a process known as reduction. The raw materials – iron ore, coke and fluxes – are fed into the top of the furnace. Air, which is heated to about 1200°C, is blown into the furnace through nozzles. The air causes the coke to burn which creates the chemical reaction. The iron ore-based feedstock is reduced to molten iron and slag. Slag is the waste product generated from the reduction process. It consists of a mix of silicates and oxides that solidifies upon cooling.

    Slag can be used in a variety of products including cement and road construction materials. However, in China only around one third of 100 million tonnes of slag generated each year is converted into useful products.

    The amount of slag produced during the steelmaking process directly relates to the iron content of the feedstock. Higher iron content equates to less slag.

    The iron content of direct shipping haematite iron ore is typically 58% to 64%. High grade iron ore concentrate contains 65% to 70% iron.


    Slag stockpiled alongside a steel mill in China. Credit: Eindhoven University of Technology