Steel is indispensable to our modern way o lie and critical to economic growth. Te intrinsic benets o steel make it a sustainable choice in a growing number o applications. Almost everything that we use is either made rom, or manuactured with, steel. It is a uniquely versatile material and is widely regarded as a high perormance, contemporary engineering material continuously being improved to meet new market demands.In 2010, world crude steel production was 1,414 million metrictons (mmt). Tis was an increase o 15% compared to 2009, a new record or global crude steel production.
Raw materials in steelmaking
Key raw materials needed in steelmaking include iron ore, coal,limestone and recycled steel. Te two main steel production routesand their related inputs are:
Te integrated steelmaking route, based on the blast urnace(BF) and basic oxygen urnace (BOF), uses raw materialsincluding iron ore, coal, limestone and recycled steel. Onaverage, this route uses 1,400 kg o iron ore, 770 kg o coal,150 kg o limestone, and 120 kg o recycled steel to produce atonne o crude steel.
Te electric arc urnace (EAF) route, based on the EAF, usesprimarily recycled steels and/or direct reduced iron (DRI) andelectricity. On average, the recycled steel-EAF route uses880 kg o recycled steel, 150 kg o coal and 43 kg o limestoneto produce a tonne o crude steel.
Steel is an alloy consisting mostly o iron and less than 2% carbon.Iron ore is, thereore, essential or the production o steel, whichin turn is essential in maintaining a strong industrial base. 98%o mined iron ore is used to make steel. Iron is one o the mostabundant metallic elements. Its oxides, or ores, compose about 5%o the earth’s crust. Average iron content or ores is 60% to 65%,ater taking into account other naturally-occurring impurities.
Iron ore is mined in about 50 countries. Te majority o ironore is mined in Brazil, Australia, China, India, the US andRussia. Australia and Brazil together dominate the world’siron ore exports, each having about one-third o total exports.
Worldwide iron ore resources are estimated to exceed 800billion tonnes o crude ore, containing more than 230 billiontonnes o iron.
Current reserves (extractable using available technology)o iron ore are estimated at 180 billion tonnes. I potentialreserves are included, this increases to 370 billion tonnes.
Coal and coke
As iron occurs only as iron oxides in the earth’s crust, the ores mustbe converted, or ‘reduced’, using carbon. Te primary source o thiscarbon is coking coal. Coal is a key raw material in steel production.Coal is primarily used as a solid uel to produce electricity and heatthrough combustion. Coke, made by carburising coal (i.e. heating inthe absence o oxygen at high temperatures), is the primary reducingagent o iron ore. Coke reduces iron ore to molten iron saturated withcarbon, called hot metal.
About 30% o coal can be saved by injecting ne coalparticles into the blast urnace, a technology calledPulverised Coal Injection (PCI).
One tonne o PCI coalused or steel production displaces about 1.4 tonnes o cokingcoal. Coals used or pulverised coal injection into blasturnaces have more narrowly dened qualities than steamcoal used in electricity generation.
Global steel production is dependent on coal – around 68% o total production relies directly on the input o coal. 761Mt o coking coal and Pulverised Coal Injection (PCI) coals are usedin global steel production, which is around 12% o total hardcoal consumption worldwide.
Coal reserves are available in almost every country worldwide, with recoverable reserves in around 70 countries.At current production levels, proven coal reserves areestimated to last 119 years.
Steel and raw materials
Ecient use o natural resources is critical to sustainability. Steel’s great advantage is that it is 100%recyclable and can be reused innitely. Te industry uses advanced technologies and techniques to increaseproduction yield rates and to acilitate the reuse o by-products. As a result o the intrinsic recycability o steel and the industry’s sustainability eforts, the value o the raw materials invested in steel production lastsar beyond the end o a steel product’s lie.