MB DRI & PELLET: What to expect at this week’s Abu Dhabi conference

More than 300 delegates have gathered in Abu Dhabi for Metal Bulletin’s 2nd World DRI & Pellet Congress, being held this year from Monday April 28 to Wednesday April 30 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

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Steel First is in the UAE sheikhdom to hear the latest developments in the direct reduced iron (DRI) and iron ore pellet markets, particularly in the Middle East-North Africa (Mena) region.

Key speakers will include executives and managers from Gulf steel-sector heavyweights Emirates Steel, Qatar Steel, Bahrain Steel and Shadeed Iron & Steel, as well as from pellet producers further afield, including Sweden’s LKAB, Brazil’s Samarco and Iran’s Sangan Iron Ore Mines.

Delegates from global mining companies, steel mills, trading houses and technology providers will discuss the changing global landscape of DRI demand and supply, and the opportunities for improved production processes provided by hot DRI and new pelletising technologies.

While ample natural gas supplies in the Mena region make DRI a preferred route for steelmaking, the availability and price of the gas for mills will be a major topic of concern and debate at the conference.

But what the region boasts in terms of gas supply, it lacks in another key production ingredient – iron ore.

The feasibility of vertical integration into iron ore for Mena suppliers will also be discussed at the conference, as well as the effects on pellet supply of growth in DRI production in North America, with the recent commissioning of Voestalpine’s plant in the US state of Texas and Nucor’s plant in Louisiana.

Stuart Horner, secretary of the International Iron Metallics Assn, and Atilla Widnell, senior analyst at Metal Bulletin Research, will delve into the global dynamics of the DRI/hot-briquetted iron (HBI) trade, the supply gap left by production disruptions in Venezuela, and comparisons with other metallics.

A panel of iron ore miners and steel mill representatives from Iran will discuss the potential of the country to become a major exporter of DRI.

And Deependra Kashiva, executive director of India’s Sponge Iron Manufacturers’ Assn will provide an overview of how recent iron ore mining bans and environmental concerns have affected the once-flourishing production of sponge iron, or DRI, on the subcontinent.