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Volume 893: debated on Monday 9 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list the direct reduction of iron ore to steel using natural gas, the method scheduled to be used in the United Kingdom at Hunterston, the estimated capacity of the project, its cost and whether similar plants are intended to be used in other plants in the United Kingdom bearing in mind the availability of natural gas on the eastern seaboard.

There are several processes for the production of directly-reduced iron using natural gas as an energy source. The Midrex process was the first to be established and proved on a commercial scale. The British Steel Corporation has not yet announced its detailed plans for Hunterston but the hon. Gentleman will have seen the recent Press reports that Midrex plants of about 800,000 tonnes a year capacity are in mind. The corporation estimates that such a plant would provide all its requirements for directly reduced iron for the foreseeable future. I understand that the private sector steel industry is also giving consideration to the construction of a direct reduction iron plant, but I have no details of its plans.