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Manufacturing Process

Filter Cake (Iron-ore fitness concentrate) is received from the post beneficiation process. Other raw materials like Lime Stone, Dolomite, Bentonite, Coke & Coal is mixed with filter cakes in proportion as an additive and binder. Then the mixture passes through Pelletizing Discs to make green balls and then for screening are sent to the Drying -> Preheating -> Roasting process in a coal fired rotary Kiln to make the pellets. The finished pellets are then sent for cooling purpose and stored. The undersized and oversized balls are sent to the crusher for the further pelletizing process.

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What are pellets?

Pellets are the ground iron ore fines converted to spherical shape balls having good physical properties for both bulk, mechanical transportation over long distances and also have excellent metallurgical properties similar or even better than lump ore. The pellets become a vital raw material for all types of Iron Making Units. They are made with technology that uses the powder that is generated during the ore extraction process, once considered waste.

Affordable, high-quality raw materials for iron making are steadily decreasing on a global scale. This means that fine and ultra-fine iron ores will command an ever-larger share of iron ore sales in the future. For this reason, a growing number of iron and steel producers are looking into the possibility of increasing the portion of pellets in their production operations. The use of pellets, however, leads to a number of issues. Fluctuating prices on the world market can seriously affect cost-efficient ironmaking.

The pellets are used as raw material for Iron making in the plants as an alternate material for Sinter and/or Lump Ore.

The pellets are preferred over sinter and lump ore as their shape, size, strength and excellent designed metallurgical properties in Blast furnaces as burden. The use of pellets resulted in increasing the productivity of the iron making units without any capital investment. The designer pellets with known chemistry facilitate reduction in coke rate and the slag chemistry over the conventional burden.
Pelletizing technology is an innovative way to produce pellet from iron ore fines which are mine’s waste materials. Pellet is basically iron oxide ball which contains all types of properties. These properties are influenced to blast furnace performance in terms of productivity, blast furnace permeability and coke rate. Nowadays, most of the industries are looking for value added pellet with balanced chemistry, so that blast furnace slag basicity and slag volume are well maintained without charging raw fluxes. As each of the raw flux materials like limestone, dolomite, quartzite and pyroxenite are having high quantity of LOI (loss on ignition) which will occupy more space within the blast furnace and hence reduces the burden movement. Iron ore fines are also having high LOI and high fineness which cannot be used in blast furnace with the available technology. This also leads to poor blast furnace performance.
Iron ore pellet is a kind of agglomerated fines which has better strength (expressed technically as ‘tumbling index’) as compared to that of parent ore and can be used as a substitute in blast furnaces in countries where lump ore is not available. Pelletizing is a process of converting very fine iron ore (<100micron) into uniform sized pellets (balls with diameter 6mm~16mm), which are suitable for use in blast furnace and direct reduction furnace.

India's iron ore export basket used to comprise predominantly of iron ore fines (almost to the tune of 80% of total iron ore exports) largely because of the lucrative market it catered to globally and secondly as the domestic market for iron ore fines as a ready-made feed for sintering/pelletisation was at a still-nascent stage.

However, over time with significant changes in the domestic iron ore market and given the increasing uncertainties in global steel market courtesy the slowdown in Chinese demand, India’s iron ore export has taken a hit. At the same time, the perception that iron ore fines can be gainfully utilized by offering a ready-to-use feed material in the form of pellets whose use in turn, leads to substantial economic gains over time and given the shortage of quality iron ore lump (which setting up a pellet plant can well alleviate), have led to a paradigm change in the domestic market.

The net result is that pelletisation has emerged as an independent economic activity and is being increasingly held as a viable one as well, as a charge mix in sponge iron making and also in blast furnaces. Over time, what had started out as an exploration has now turned out to be nothing short of a trend. Such increasing importance of pellet as a key feed material in production of iron and steel in the domestic market has made it essential to assess the market trends in this emerging but niche segment in terms of spread of the Indian Iron Ore Pellet Industry.

Many pelletizing plants are also equipped with grinding units to convert mixed size iron ore to desired fine size needed for pellet making.
Technologically speaking, both are totally different materials. We need to differentiate between Minerals, which are simply mined from the earth and loaded into wagons as such. There is hardly any ‘value addition’ in the process of excavating Iron ore from mines. On the other hand, Iron ore pellets are value added: Iron ore fines are subjected to several process steps like mixing with binders, balling to form green pellets, induration (heating) at 13500 C involving drying, firing and cooling of pellets. This is a 'manufacturing activity' and hence the finished products, called pellets earn revenue by way of excise, besides giving gainful employment to a large number of people.

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