The basic raw material for steel is iron ore. Of the total iron ore resources in India, 56 per cent comes out as fines and 44 per cent as boulders. But boulders have to be sized for blast furnaces and for sponge iron plants and fines cannot be easily processed and they must first be converted into pellets using binders. The use of pellets enhances blast furnace productivity and also reduces coke consumption, so it is essential for the steel industry to focus on pelletisation activities.
With annual domestic steelmaking capacity expected to reach 150 MT by 2016-17, the volume of iron ore pellets is bound to rise, and India's annual iron ore pellet production is expected to increase from 28.50 MT in 2010 to 75 million MT in 2015, according to the Centre for Techno-Economic Mineral Policy Options.
|What are pellets?|
| Iron ore in a finely ground state is not easily transported or readily processed. Thus, it is necessary to agglomerate the fine-ground ore into pellets using binders. Pellets are approximately spherical lumps formed by the agglomeration of crushed iron ore fines in the presence of moisture and binder on subsequent induration at 1,300C. Low-grade iron ore, iron ore fines and iron-ore tailings and slimes are accumulated over the years at mine heads and generated during
the existing washing processes, need to be beneficiated to provide concentrated
of required quality to Indian steel plants. However, these concentrates are
too fine in size to be used directly in the existing iron-making processes.
To use this fine concentrate, pelletisation is the only alternative available.
The use of pellets increases productivity in blast furnaces and reduced coke
consumption. There is a great need to focus on the development of pelletisation
activities for the benefit the future of the Indian steel industry.|
Courtesy: Centre for Techno-Economic Mineral Policy Options (C-Tempo)
In view of this, all major steel players in the country are working towards increasing their pelletisation capabilities. One of these, Essar Steel, recently commissioned a 6-MT pellet making facility in Odisha — is the first phase of a 12 MT pellet plant due to be fully commissioned by 2013. Essar Steel is investing Rs4,00 crore in this phase to set up an integrated steel facility as part of its ongoing investments in the state. The integrated facility includes a 6-MT steel plant, a 12-MT iron ore beneficiation plant at Dabuna and a 253-km slurry pipe line connecting Dabuna and Paradip. The slurry pipeline, apart from being a cost-reduction initiative, is also the most environmentally friendly way of transporting raw materials to the pellet plant. It has been designed to upgrade the quality of low-grade iron ore fines from 54 per cent Fe content to over 63 per cent, and will be completed in the coming quarter. Essar Steel is awaiting the allocation of captive mines by the state government as promised in a memorandum of understanding, and thereafter will initiate the process of setting up the steel plant.
"For us, this pellet plant is a crucial piece in our quest to achieve complete vertical integration," said Shashi Ruia, chairman of Essar Group. He also acknowledged the support given by the government under the leadership of chief minister Naveen Patnaik. Dilip Oommen, MD and CEO of Essar Steel, said: "This will secure sustainable raw material source at the right cost and we have ensured that the safety and environmental aspects have been given due importance in the design, construction and operation of the plant." The Paradip pellet plant is the second significant milestone for Essar Steel this year after it completed the expansion of steel capacity to10 MT at its Hazira plant in Gujarat.
Security and flexibility
Essar has adopted an integration and securitisation strategy that has enabled it to keep its costs low. The bulk of its iron ore needs have been secured through offtake agreements with key players like NMDC, private miners in Odisha and captive mines in Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh. In addition, the iron ore beneficiation plant will be set up by the company to facilitate the usage of low-grade iron ore fines abundantly available in the country. The offtake agreements combined with the captive mines and easy availability of low-grade iron ore dumps provide Essar with the necessary raw-material security to operate the pellet plant and later steel plant in the most cost-effective manner.
|Significance of Paradip plant|
Environment management at Paradip
- Flue gases pass through high-capacity ESPs designed for efficient dust collection.
- Process gas stack emissions are less than 50 mg of Nm3.
- An online stack monitoring system is in place to finetune ESP performance.
- A high-capacity dust collection wet scrubber is provided at the induration machine discharge end.
- All the critical transfer points are provided with high-capacity bag filters to minimise fugitive emissions.
- A mechanised dust suppression system is provided in the product stockpile area.
- All solid wastes are recycled to create a zero-waste generation plant. (recycled through thickener)
- A covered storage area is provided for additives such as bentonite, limestone and coal.
- Water from the dewatering of slurry will be used for power generation.
|Some key pellet producers in India||Capacity (MTPA)|
|Essar Steel (including Paradip & Vizag)||14|
|Mandovi Pellets, Goa||2.5|
|Bharat Mines, Karnataka||1.2|
|Tata Steel (under commission)||6|
|BRPL (Stemcor — under commission)||4|
|Bhushan Steel & Power (under construction)||4|