Siemens Industry USA and consortium partner Midrex Technologies announced that they have received an order from the Austrian Voestalpine group to build a direct reduction plant in the United States. The Midrex plant will be constructed near Corpus Christi, Texas. It is designed to produce 2 million metric tons (mt) of hot briquetted iron (HBI) per year, making it the largest single module of this type worldwide. Voestalpine said it will invest around 550 million euros in the project, including comprehensive infrastructure improvements for the site, particularly the necessary port facilities. Siemens and Midrex will provide engineering, supply of mechanical and electrical equipment, and advisory services for the direct reduction plant. The plant is due to begin operations in late 2015.

About half of the annual production from the direct reduction plant will be shipped to Voestalpine’s steel production sites in Linz and Donawitz, Austria. The remainder will be sold to partners interested in longer-term contracts. In May, Altos Hornos de México (AHMSA), Mexico’s largest steel manufacturer, signed a memorandum of understanding with Voestalpine. AHMSA intends to source several hundred thousand tons of high quality HBI from the new Voestalpine location annually. 

The Midrex facility will produce high-quality HBI from iron ore pellets. Instead of using coke in the blast furnaces, the direct reduction plant will use natural gas as the reducing agent.