Steel Production Chain: From Mining to Final Products​​​​​​​

Iran's Rich Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration

Steel Production Chain is a fascinating journey from mining to final products that involves a series of intricate processes transforming raw materials into one of the most vital components of modern infrastructure and industry.
 
 Steel is a fundamental material, essential in everything from towering expansive bridges to the cars we drive and the appliances in our homes. Each stage of this production chain—mining, beneficiation, smelting, steelmaking, casting, rolling, and finishing—requires advanced technology, skilled labor, and meticulous planning.
 
 In this article, we will explore each step-in detail, highlighting the technologies and methods used to ensure that the steel produced meets the highest standards of quality and efficiency. Join us as we delve into the remarkable processes that transform simple minerals into the backbone of our modern world.​​​​​​​

Iron Ore Mining​​​​​​​

The journey of steel begins with the extraction of iron ore from the earth. Iron ore is a mineral substance from which iron (Fe) can be economically extracted. It is typically found in the form of magnetite (Fe3O4), hematite (Fe2O3), goethite, limonite, or siderite that are all minerals which contain iron and are used as sources of iron ore for the production of steel.​​​​​​​

The Stages of Mining Process​​​

The mining process involves several stages, including exploration, drilling, blasting, and hauling.​​​​​​​

Exploration​​​​​​​

After mining, the ore undergoes beneficiation to increase its iron content and remove impurities. This process includes crushing, grinding, magnetic separation, flotation, and sometimes chemical treatment.​​​​​​​

Beneficiation​​​​​​​

Geologists conduct surveys and use various techniques, including satellite imagery and ground-based methods, to locate potential ore deposits.
 (Check Zamin Kavan Company’s article “Iran's Rich Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration” to know more.

Drilling and Blasting​​​​​​​

Once an ore body is identified, drilling and blasting techniques are employed to break the ore into smaller, manageable pieces.​​​​​​​

Hauling​​​

The broken ore is loaded onto trucks or conveyors and transported to a processing facility.​​​​​​​

The ore is crushed into small pieces and ground into a fine powder to liberate the iron particles from the surrounding material.​​​​​​​

Crushing and Grinding​​​​​​​

Magnets are used to separate iron-rich particles from the gangue (waste material).​​​​​​​

Magnetic Separation​​​​​​​

Additional methods, such as flotation, are used to remove impurities like silica and phosphorus.​​​​​​​

Flotation and Chemical Treatment​​​​​​​

WE ARE KIMIA​​​​​​​

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Kimia Holding stands as a diversified conglomerate with a strong foothold in various sectors including mining and mineral resources, tourism services, livestock and poultry, agriculture, and foreign trade foreign trade in Iran and across the Middle East. However, it is within the realm of mining that Kimia Holding has truly distinguished itself, garnering recognition for its unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation.

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Blast Furnace​​​​​​​

The next step in the steel production chain is smelting, where iron ore is converted into molten iron. This is typically done in a blast furnace, which is a large, cylindrical furnace lined with refractory bricks. The blast furnace process involves the following steps:​​​​​​​

Smelting and Iron making ​​​​​​​

Smelting and Iron making ​​​​​​​

Charging​​​​​​​

Iron ore, coke (a form of carbon), and limestone are continuously fed into the top of the blast furnace.​​​​​​​

Combustion​​​​​​​

A hot blast of air (oxygen) is blown into the bottom of the furnace. The coke reacts with the oxygen to produce carbon monoxide, which reduces the iron ore to molten iron.​​​​​​​

Formation of Slag​​​​​​​

Limestone reacts with impurities in the ore to form slag, which floats on the surface of the molten iron and can be removed.​​​​​​​

Tapping​​​​​​​

The molten iron, also known as pig iron, is periodically tapped or used from the bottom of the furnace.​​​​​​​

The next step in the steel production chain is converting pig iron into steel. There are two primary methods for steelmaking: the Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) and the Electric Arc Furnace (EAF).​​​​​​​

Primary Steelmaking​​​​​​​

The Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) is a type of steelmaking furnace used for the production of steel by refining pig iron. The BOF process is one of the most common and efficient methods for steel production, accounting for a significant portion of the world's steel output. It is favored for its ability to produce large quantities of high-quality steel efficiently and cost-effectively.​​​​​​​

What Is the Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF)?​​​​​​​

1. Charging: Molten pig iron and scrap steel are charged into the BOF.
 
2. Oxygen Blowing: Pure oxygen is blown into the furnace at high speeds, causing a chemical reaction that reduces the carbon content of the iron and removes impurities.
 
3. Tapping: The resulting molten steel is tapped from the furnace and transported to the next stage.
 ​​​​​​​

The Several Key of Steps of BOF Process​​​​​​​

An Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) is a type of furnace used primarily in steelmaking, which utilizes electrical energy to heat and melt scrap steel or direct reduced iron (DRI). The EAF process is a flexible and efficient method for producing a wide variety of steel grades, making it a vital component in the modern steel industry.​​​​​​​

What is an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF)?​​​​​​​

 Electric Arc Furnace

The Several Key of Steps of EAF Process

1. Charging: Scrap steel is charged into the EAF.
 
2. Melting:
Electric arcs generated by graphite electrodes melt the scrap steel.
 
3. Refining: The molten steel is refined by adding fluxes to remove impurities.
 
4. Tapping: The refined steel is tapped from the furnace and moved to the next stage.
 ​​​​​​​

Ladle refining is a critical process in modern steelmaking, used to improve the quality of molten steel after it has been produced in primary steelmaking furnaces.
This process involves various treatments performed in a ladle, a large refractory-lined vessel that holds the molten steel. The aim of ladle refining is to adjust the chemical composition, remove impurities, and control the temperature of the steel to achieve desired properties.​​​​​​​

Secondary Steelmaking​​​​​​​

Ladle Refining​​​​​​​

Secondary Steelmaking​​​​​​​

What Are the Advantages of Ladle Refining?​​​​​​​

1. Improved Steel Quality: Ladle refining enhances the cleanliness and homogeneity of the steel, resulting in better mechanical properties and performance.
 
2. Flexibility: Allows for precise control over the steel's composition and temperature, making it possible Casting. The next step in the steel production chain is casting, where molten steel is solidified into semi-finished forms known as billets, blooms, or slabs. ​​​​​​​

Cold rolling is performed at room temperature and it is used to produce steel with a smooth surface finish and precise dimensions. It involves reducing the thickness of hot-rolled steel.​​​​​​​

Cold Rolling​​​​​​​

Coating and Surface Treatment​​​​​​​

The final step in the steel production chain involves coating and surface treatment to enhance the steel's properties and appearance.
 
1. Galvanizing: Steel is coated with a layer of zinc to improve corrosion resistance.
 
2. Painting: Steel is painted to protect it from environmental elements and enhance its appearance.
 
3. Plating: Steel is coated with metals like chromium, nickel, or tin to improve surface hardness and resistance to corrosion and wear.
 ​​​​​​​

Applications of Steel in Industries​​​​​​​

Steel is a fundamental material in modern industry, renowned for its versatility, strength, and durability. It is extensively used across various sectors due to its exceptional properties. In the construction industry, steel is vital for building infrastructure, including skyscrapers, bridges, and residential buildings, owing to its high tensile strength and resistance to environmental factors. The automotive industry relies on steel for manufacturing vehicle bodies, engines, and various components, benefiting from its crash resistance and cost-effectiveness. In the energy sector, steel is indispensable for constructing pipelines, oil rigs, and power plants, as it can withstand extreme pressures and temperatures. Additionally, the machinery and equipment industry utilize steel to produce industrial machines, tools, and appliances, ensuring longevity and reliability. Its applications extend to household items, medical devices, and even the aerospace industry, showcasing steel's integral role in advancing technology and improving everyday life.​​​​​​​

Conclusion​​​​​​​

Steel is a fundamental material in modern industry, renowned for its versatility, strength, and durability. It is extensively used across various sectors due to its exceptional properties. In the construction industry, steel is vital for building infrastructure, including skyscrapers, bridges, and residential buildings, owing to its high tensile strength and resistance to environmental factors. The automotive industry relies on steel for manufacturing vehicle bodies, engines, and various components, benefiting from its crash resistance and cost-effectiveness. In the energy sector, steel is indispensable for constructing pipelines, oil rigs, and power plants, as it can withstand extreme pressures and temperatures. Additionally, the machinery and equipment industry utilize steel to produce industrial machines, tools, and appliances, ensuring longevity and reliability. Its applications extend to household items, medical devices, and even the aerospace industry, showcasing steel's integral role in advancing technology and improving everyday life.​​​​​​​

Resources​​​​​​

"Steel Production" - World Steel Association

"Steelmaking Overview" - Metallurgy and Materials Society
 
"Hot and Cold Rolling Processes" - The Fabricator
 
"Surface Treatment and Coating of Steel" - ASM International
 
"Steel in the Circular Economy: A Life Cycle Perspective" - World Steel Association

written by Folad Kavan Company (FKC)​​​​​​​
that holds a central position in driving the development of the regional steel production chain. The construction of its pellet factory began in late 2022, covering a vast expanse of 15 hectares and engaging a collaborative effort between domestic and foreign companies. Presently, critical infrastructure including gas, electricity, telecommunication systems, and water supply is actively being established, highlighting the company's steadfast commitment to enhancing steel production capabilities in the region.