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Cliffs plans to replace Middletown BF with DRI, EMF plant

Written by Laura Miller

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. has plans to replace the blast furnace at its Middletown Works in Ohio with a direct-reduced iron (DRI) plant and two electric melting furnaces (EMFs).

The plans are being made possible by a grant of up to $500 million from the Department of Energy’s Industrial Demonstrations Program. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are providing the funding for the program.

If awarded the DOE funding, Cliffs will build a 2.5-million-ton-per-year hydrogen-ready DRI plant and two 120 MW EMFs, it said in a statement on Monday.

The Middletown mill’s existing annual raw steel production capacity of about 3 million short tons would be maintained with the upgrades, Cliffs said, noting that the site will no longer use coke for its iron production.

As the DRI plant can use standard, blast-furnace grade pellets, which will reduce the amount of prime scrap required for the steelmaking, Cliffs said it will be able to maintain the quality of the steel produced and sustain its position as a major supplier to the automotive market.

Additionally, the facility overhaul will allow for the plant to be fueled by natural gas, a mix of natural gas and clean hydrogen, or clean hydrogen, Cliffs said. Depending on the process, this will reduce the current iron-making carbon intensity by 50-90%, or even more.

Cliffs anticipates its net capital outlay from the project to be “approximately $1.3 billion, net of capital avoidance on the existing blast furnace and coke plants” from 2025 through 2029.

Cliffs did not respond to a request for additional information by the time of this story’s publication.

Butler Works electrical steel project

The DOE also selected another Cliffs project for funding award negotiations.

Selected to receive a grant of up to $75 million to assist with the production of electrical steels was the company’s Butler Works in Pennsylvania. The selected project would replace two existing natural-gas fired high-temperature slab reheat furnaces with four electrified induction slab reheat furnaces.

The project “plans to electrify the only production facility for high-silicon grain oriented electrical steel (GOES) in the US,” according to a DOE summary of the project.

Cliffs said its net cost for the Butler Works project would be approximately $100 million over four years.

This post appeared first on Steel Market Update.

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