The main methods of steel production are as follows:
1- Consuming scraps in electric arc furnaces
2- Using iron ore and iron ore concentrate

In the second method, two methods are used:
2-1- Blast Furnace - Oxygen Converters, FINEX and ITM3
2-2- DRI method - steel making (electric arc furnace)
More than one billion and six hundred million tons of steel was produced in 2016 all over the world, however, only 72.67 million tons of which have been produced by DRI method.
The main reason that encourages the countries to use the blast furnace or direct reduction method is the price and access to coke and natural gas.
Thus, the production of steel by using natural gas and direct reduction method is only justifiable in countries where natural gas is sufficient and inexpensive. Since Iran has the second largest natural gas reserve in the world, steel production through direct reduction method has been considered since the 1970s. So, comprehensive studies have been carried out since then.
Leading technologies at that time were MIDREX, HYL1 and Prüfer. The current Khouzestan Steel Company was selected to carry out a pilot project in the country. So, they could develop and operate these three methods in the company to choose the appropriate method.
The 1979 revolution, withdrawal of foreign experts, and the imposed war against Iran caused a delay in the installation and operation of these units. Launching the units, the Prüfer unit did not have the required performance, and the HYL1 modules also encountered a problem.
(New developments in HYLI technology kept it working in the industry. The method produced equivalent to 17.4% of the world’s DRI production in the world in 2016). Subsequently, the only technology that was exploited in Iran was MIDREX. The technology also installed and employed in Mobarakeh Steel Company, as well.
According to the MIDREX annual report, Iran, followed by India and the United States, has the most significant growth in the production of sponge iron in the world in 2016.
The largest DRI producing countries are India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Mexico.
The DRI production table in these countries is as follows:
These five countries produced a total of 71% of the world’s DRI in 2016.


DRI production


India’s two-thirds of DRI is produced by the ROTARY KILN method, which uses coal instead of natural gas. Also, the Middle East produces 34.19% of the world’s DRI. Producing 16.01 million tons of DRI, Iran is the largest producer of DRI by natural gas.
Upon launching 800,000-ton module of Persian Reduction (PERED) in Shadegan, Neyriz, and Miane steel units (each with a capacity of 800,000 tons), the country’s DRI production capacity will reach 19 million tons. Currently, Mobarakeh Steel CO. is the world’s largest producer of sponge iron. Also, producing 3.2 million tons of steel by this method (without considering the plants of Saba and Hormozgan), the company has the highest production capacity of sponge iron under one roof in the world.
Iran is the largest producer of sponge iron by natural gas. Also, launching new units, it will be the most significant producer of sponge iron in 2017 (regardless of its method). Consequently, it needs the best technology, experience, and innovation in the industry.
Therefore, the technology of constructing Direct-Reduction units has been indigenized, and each new unit will reach its nominal capacity in the first one or two months.
Given the production of sponge iron by PERED method in Shadegan and using the same method at the Neyriz plant, the PERED technology will be considered as a DRI production unit as well (which has been registered in Iran and Germany as an Iranian company). So, it will be well recognized among the known methods of DRI production.

CEO of Bafgh Zinc Smelting Co.,Mohammad Heidarzadeh, is of the view that Iran is currently in a good position to increase the production of zinc, but mines are not sufficiently equipped to meet the current demand. If more mines are allocated to zinc ingot producing plants, Iran will significantly contribute to the production of this sought-after metal.


Saeed Anjedani, the CEO of Calcimin Co., pointed out to this company’s plans for supplying raw materials from Iran or abroad. As one of the oldest zinc-production companies in Iran, Calcimin Co. witnessed a growth in production, sales, and exports,
gaining a special place in Tehran Stock Exchange. According to Anjedani, the global demand market does not wish to decrease the prices for certain reasons. He also explained the soon-to-be-installed BZS (Basic Zing Sulfate) project which pursues economic and environmental goals.


14th of May 2017 will be a memorable day for Iranian steel industry as it is concurrent with the launching of the first production plan of sponge iron adopting «Persian Reduction», PERED, technology. MIDREX was the only method used over more than three decades to produce steel in Iran due to the country’s high natural gas resources.
Both systems, MIDREX and PERED, are based on the use of natural gas for the reduction of iron from iron ore pellets.
So far, most of the steel producing plants in Iran, not including Esfahan Steel Company (ESCO) applying blast furnace system, are utilizing MIDREX. Yet, gradually PERED was adopted as well, and steel producing projects including Neyriz, Fars, and Baft, Kerman, are to apply PERED technology. The plans are waiting to be launched in the near future.


To realize Iran’s Steel Development Plan, there are some issues that will be addressed briefly in this article.
One of the most important questions concerning the development plan is to recognize the basic needs of Iran Steel Comprehensive Plan.
According to the plan, in order to reach the production capacity of 55mt, the following production operations should be completed by 2025:
88mt iron ore concentrate
91mt agglomerate and pellet
60mt sponge iron and cast iron
55mt crude steel

It is expected that the total production capacity of active and under-construction units producing concentrate reaches 70mt. The remaining amount will be supplied by an increase in domestic production or via imports.

Iran’s first low-grade hematite iron ore processing plant was put into operation. Enjoying 100% Iranian technology, the tests were undertaken in Fakoor Sanat Tehran, a metallurgy mineral processing research center.
Launched in the adjacency of Jalal-Abad Mine, the iron ore concentrate plant has a production capacity of 600,000t per annum.
2.2mt hematite iron ore (32% grade) is the annual input of the plant while its output is 66.5% feed pellet concentrate.
During the mine’s operations, 12mt low-grade hematite iron ore has been piled unused. Less than two years ago, IMIDRO, as the owner of the mine, put the ore up for an auction and FST was picked up as the winner.
Concurrently, FST made an investment to process low-grade hematite iron ore, which was previously considered as a waste.

Vice President of FST in technology sector, Majid Saghaeian, said the grade of piled mineral was 32% and had to be processed by a new technology.
«As Iran’s iron ore mines are mainly magnetite with an average grade of 50%, not much attention has been paid to hematite iron ores. However, by the continuation of mining, the amount of low-grade hematite iron ore will increase. On the other hand, the growing demand of iron ore concentrate in steel development plan makes the use of new technologies inevitable,» he added.
According to him, more than 90% of the world steel is   produced using blast furnaces, but due to abundant natural gas, Direct Reduction Method is more commonly applied in Iran.
Commenting on the implementation process of the project, he said: «The project was put into operation in 20 months. In spite of the fact that the major equipment for wet and dry crushing was supplied by Germany and China, designing and engineering operations were undertaken by Fakoor Sanat Tehran. The technical knowledge of the plan is acquired by the company.»
Reduction of water consumption, as well as impurities such as sulfur, phosphorus and silica in the produced concentrate are the key characteristics of the plant. Another major feature is that the output is 66.5% grade feed pellet.
The sample test was conducted in Fakoor Sanat Processing Research Center using High Pressures Grinding Rolls (HPGR).
Vice President of FST in technology sector also explained that the iron ore beneficiation is carried out via High Gradient Medium Intensity Magnetic Separation.
He emphasized that the use of DRI in Iran, low ratio of extraction compared to the mine capacity and insufficient production of concentrate to feed new steel projects and plants have caused a greater need to use new technologies for producing and processing iron ore in Iran.