Global Energy Monitor’s Global Blast Furnace Tracker uses a two-level system consisting of both a database and wiki pages with further information. The database tracks individual blast furnace units and includes information such as operating status, age, manufacturer, model, size, capacity, and unit relinings. For each furnace, information is available on the corresponding steel plant wiki page on GEM.wiki. The database and wiki pages are updated annually.
A preliminary dataset for the GBFT was generated from plants with listed blast furnace capacity in GEM’s Global Steel Plant Tracker (GSPT). This was expanded using information from the Association for Iron & Steel Technology, China Metallurgical News, Sina Corporation, Steel on the Net, Steel Guru, SteelOrbis South East Asian Iron and Steel Institute (SEAISI), the American Iron and Steel Institute, and numerous other media, government and corporate sources.
Data for blast furnaces under development was gathered from company announcements, press releases, government permits, and OECD papers on steelmaking capacity developments, and includes global coverage of blast furnaces as of April 1, 2023. The data was then vetted against additional sources of information, listed below.
Blast furnace data is updated and maintained through six main sources:
- Corporate reports and data sources from iron and steel plant owner and parent companies
- Government data
- Reports by national and regional iron and steel industry groups
- News and media reports
- Reports from iron and steel technology manufacturers
- On the ground contacts who can provide first-hand information about a project or plant
After researching blast furnace units, data from the GBFT was compared against data from the GSPT to identify and correct units with incorrect, incomplete, or out-of-sync information.
Where possible, blast furnace data is circulated for review to researchers familiar with local conditions and languages.
Announced: Furnaces that have been announced in corporate or governmental planning documents, but have not begun construction.
Construction: Construction of a physical furnace has begun.
Operating: The furnace has officially started iron production.
Mothballed: Ironmaking has been idled such that it cannot be brought into operation immediately, but is not closed.
Cancelled: A furnace previously planned or under development that has been cancelled. If no progress or announcements for an announced unit are made after 5 years, the furnace is considered to be cancelled.
Retired: Furnace has ceased operations and no longer has the ability to produce iron. If the unit has been clearly disassembled or has been mothballed for over 5 years it is considered retired.
Blast Furnace Capacity
Capacity is defined as the tonnes of crude iron that a blast furnace is capable of producing. Wherever possible, this data comes from a cited source reporting annual capacity. However, in many situations this information is calculated from other figures provided about the unit or plant, such as:
- Daily, weekly, or monthly capacity figures, which are multiplied to get annual figures
- Plant-level capacity, which is then prorated according the known sizes of furnaces on-site
- Data on other units at the plant, which can be subtracted from total plant capacity to ascertain the capacity of remaining units
- Historic production values of the unit
- Volume of the unit
If a blast furnace is known to exist but its exact capacity could not be found or estimated through any of the above methods, capacity is listed as “unknown”.
Blast Furnace Relinings
Blast furnaces require work to repair the refractory lining, and each full relining marks the start of a new campaign. Each campaign lasts on average 15-20 years, after which the company faces a decision about whether or not to refurbish the unit or shut it down. By reinvesting in blast furnaces, companies typically commit to operating the technology for at least enough time to recover their investment costs, locking them in for potentially decades. The GBFT tracks historical unit relining data to get a better sense of these investment cycles.
Blast furnace data is included at Global Energy Monitor’s GEM.wiki on the pages of iron and steel plants that have one or more furnaces. Under standard wiki convention, all information is linked to a published reference, such as a news article, company or government report, or a regulatory permit. In order to ensure data integrity in the open-access wiki environment, Global Energy Monitor researchers review all edits of project wiki pages.