Anil Kumar Chaudhary, Group CEO – Metals & Mining, Essar shares his insights at the Steel & Metallurgy webinar

Essar was proud to be associated with the Steel & Metallurgy webinar, for their 43rd edition held on April 8th, 2022. Mr Anil Kumar Chaudhary, Group CEO – Metals & Mining, Essar, was invited as the Guest of Honour.

While thanking the Steel and Metallurgy on organising the webinar on contemporary topic of ‘Raw Materials, HBI/DRI and Pelletisation for Steel Industry’ and giving him an opportunity to speak, Mr Anil Chaudhary stated that the concerned issues can discussed under five broad heads namely availability, transportation, conversion, financing and sustainability. Thereafter, he deliberated on all the issues one by one as under:

Touching base on the first point – Availability, Mr Chaudhry is of the opinion that India has an abundance of iron ore, which needs to be used in a logical manner. Beneficiation facilities also need to be initiated to avoid complete depletion of resources. The recent stabilisation of the premium on iron ore reserves is also going to benefit the Nation and industry players in the long run. He went on to shed light on the importance of exploration of resources and optimal utilisation of available reserves – a much-avoided subject.

In order for DRI furnaces to be successful, the availability of LNG, natural gas, hydrogen, etc. is extremely essential in order for it to be economical. Keeping that in mind, importance must be given to research and development of coal gasification and more work need to be put in towards syngas production to achieve optimal results for steel production.

The second aspect – Transportation, includes various modes such as conveyor, roads, railways, etc. However, the most important mode of transport are slurry pipelines. Transportation by roads & railways account to be hard on the economic and environmental aspects of a business. Slurry pipelines help in reducing operational and transportation costs as compared to the other mediums while simultaneously benefitting the environment. Essar is one of the first companies to set up a slurry pipeline in the country.

The third aspect – Conversion, sheds light on the importance of a shift from vertical shaft kilns to rotary kilns, a boon for small DRI manufacturers. At the same time, while being extremely beneficial, if one has to produce iron from the direct reduced route of natural gas or hydrogen, tremendous support of the Government and appropriate technological development will be required.

The fourth aspect – Financing, is usually available for the existing players. However, with respect to upcoming companies who want to set up green field plants, financial backing from the banking systems is lacking.  Mr Chaudhry went on to say that companies who have gone through NCLT proceedings in the past shouldn’t be penalised by depriving them of finances, especially when they have undergone the entirely legal process. The spirit of entrepreneurship in the country must not die and more support should be provided to such companies. Infrastructure projects in the country are also facing financing issues and which should be looked into.

The fifth and most important aspect Mr Chaudhry touched upon was that of Sustainability. The Steel industry is responsible for 8% of the CO2 generation in the world. Industry players need to follow highest standards of control to keep emissions in check. In steel making sustainability starts right from mining and the use of equipment. Industry members need to make sure that there is an intention to shift from diesel to cleaner sources of energy such as electricity, LNG, hydrogen – even though a distant reality. Use of conveyor belts in mining instead of transporting material through trucks, which run on fossil fuels, must also be maximised.

Essar is already working towards using conveyor belts in all our new assets around the world. Another option which can be explored is these of natural gas in pelletisation, could be most feasible. In the years to come, it is perceived that the availability of coal in the country could be problematic. Hence, we have to put major emphasis on circular economy leading to lower emission levels and a clean environment and recycle as much steel as possible going forward.

The future of raw materials for steel making is bright, however there has to be a combined effort on part of the Government, the peers etc. We have to work together and adopt new technologies, conserve the available material, eventually leading to sustainability and saving the environment.

Mr Nirmalya Mukherjee, Editor, Steel & Metallurgy- a leading industry magazine, moderated the discussion in the presence of reputed panelists and eminent industry veterans. The panel constituted of Mr Deependra Kashiva, Executive Director, Sponge Iron, Mr Paramjeet Singh, Additional Industry Advisor, Ministry of Steel, Govt of India, Dr Thomas Hansteirn, General Manager Sales, Maschinen fabrik Koppern GmbH & Co.KG, Germany.

Mr V R Sharma, Managing Director, Jindal Steel & Power Limited, also a part of the panel, initiated the discussion as the keynote speaker. Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste, Hon’ble Minister of State for Steel, Govt of India was invited as the Chief Guest.

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