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Alternative Iron Makers Forge Alliance

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Midrex adds two key allies for its alternative iron systems.

May 30, 2002
Midrex Technologies Inc., Charlotte, N.C., has signed an agreement with steelmaker Kobe Steel and equipment maker Techint Technologies to jointly market and supply the Fastmet® and Fastmelt® alternative iron systems worldwide.

Under the agreement, Techint will supply the rotary hearth furnaces and melting/smelting equipment, which are integral parts of the Fastmet and FastMelt processes. “This agreement means that we can focus our attention on providing the most effective equipment design for each plant configuration,” says Gianluigi Nova, CEO of Techint Technologies, Milan, Italy. “It will also allow us to approach our customers as a team, working together to provide the best solution possible in each market segment.”

The agreement also covers cooperation for the marketing of the FasteelTM process, which combines the Fastmelt process with Techint’s ConSteel system for continuous scrap feeding and preheating.

“The Fastmet, Fastmelt and Fasteel processes will become increasingly popular as mills look to better ways of producing liquid steel,” predicts Steve Okushima, Group Executive Vice President of Japan’s Kobe Steel Ltd. “Techint is a leading supplier of melting and smelting equipment, and they have built more rotary hearth furnaces than any other supplier, so we feel very confident in their ability to deliver quality equipment for these processes.”

In April 2002, Techint received a contract from Midrex to build the rotary hearth furnace that will be a part of the Mesabi Nugget demonstration plant in Minnesota for Kobe’s ITmk3® technology for producing blast furnace-grade pig iron in nugget form.

Fastmet is a coal-based DRI process developed by Kobe Steel and Midrex Technologies Inc. Iron bearing materials (virgin iron ores or waste oxides) are blended with a reductant (coal or waste carbon source) and are rapidly heated in a rotary hearth furnace (RHF) to produce 85 to 92 percent metallized DRI in six to 12 minutes.

Fastmelt is a process that takes the DRI from the Fastmet Process and directly charges it into an electric iron making furnace to produce hot metal. Hot metal made from Fastmet DRI is chemically equivalent to blast furnace hot metal, according to Midrex.

Fasteel combines the hot metal produced in the Fastmelt process with scrap in an electric arc furnace that is continuously fed from Techint’s ConSteel system.

Midrex Technologies Inc. is best known for its direct reduction process, which converts iron ore into a direct reduced iron product for use in steelmaking, iron making and foundry applications. Midrex has also developed new technologies such as Fastmet and Fastmelt.

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