[VIDEO] How-To: Turn Iron Ore into Steel
Iron ore is one of the top three commodities mined in the world. The raw material, which is typically found in rocks and minerals, is rich in iron oxides and usually found in the form of magnetite, hematite, goethite, limonite or siderite.
The ore, which is an active ingredient in creating steel, is the world’s most commonly used metal, representing almost 95 percent of all metal used per year. Although prices for iron ore have been extremely unattractive as of late, we examine the process of turning the metal into steel.
The first stage of turning iron ore into steel is the processing. The rock is first grounded up with the ore being extracted using magnetic rollers. The fine-grained ore is then processed into coarse-grained clumps, which is used in the blast furnace.
According to ArcelorMittal, one of the largest steel and mining companies, a mixture of iron ore and coal is then heated in a blast furnace to produce molten iron (pig iron), from which steel is made.
“In a basic oxygen furnace, molten iron ore is the principal raw material and is mixed with varying quantities of steel scrap and alloys to produce different grades of steel. In an electric arc furnace, recycled steel scrap is melted directly into new steel. About 12% of our steel is made from recycled steel.”
The steel from the furnace is passed through continuous casters and is formed into slabs, blooms and billets. From there it’s transformed into a wide range of finished steel products through hot and cold rolling processes. Last but not least, slabs are rolled into flat products; blooms are shaped into girders, beams and other structural shapes; and billets are formed into bars and rods.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.