The utilization of abundant low grade laterite ores for the production of nickel pig iron or pig iron, an intermediate product of ironmaking for stainless-steel production, was the general objective of the study.  Low-grade laterite ore samples were sourced from the provinces of Zambales, Isabela, Palawan, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur. After intensive sample preparation, laterite pellets were fed into a pilot-scale shaft furnace to simulate a pilot-scale blast furnace process. The final product was crude pig iron with nickel (nickel pig iron). A total of eight (8) batches of pilot tests were conducted with overall calculated metallic product yield of 33% to 35%. The quality of the crude pig iron produced having average grade of 89.9% Fe, 2.1% C, 0.185% Si, 0.751% Mn 0.41% S, and 0.37% P was almost comparable to commercial basic pig iron with typical grade of at least 92% Fe, 3.5-4.5% C, ≤1.25 Si, ≤1.0% Mn, ≤0.05% S, and 0.08-0.15% P. The low carbon content of the crude pig iron can be attributed to the manual oxygen lancing conducted during tapping, while its high sulphur and phosphorus contents may be due to the ore’s inherent composition. Analysis of slag materials yielded significant Scandium content. In general, converting low grade laterite ores into pig iron via the blast/shaft furnace technology is technically feasible. However, the composition of the ore plays a critical role in its reducibility and therefore, will dictate its suitability for the process. Laterite ores differs greatly from typical blast furnace feed (hematite or magnetite) in terms of physical and chemical properties, hence, challenges during sintering and smelting were expected. Encountered challenges in the pilot tests include excessive slag with low metal temperature and poor fluidity of hot metal and high slag viscosity due to the high alumina content of the laterite feed material.

Any further information on the results of this study can be inquired from Engr. Bernardo V. Bitanga at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..