The steel industry has historically always had a tradition of recycling their ferrous materials. Other by-products and wastes were often sent to landfill. In the late 1970s, the decision was made within SSAB to reduce the landfilling of these materials and evaluate methods to process and/or sell them instead. At that time Merox was established as a subsidiary in Oxelösund. In Luleå SSAB’s production was organized as a separate function and in Raahe the company SJK was established. The figure below presents how these different operations were shaped into the current Merox.
Currently Merox is a fully-owned subsidiary of SSAB, working closely with its owner and at the same time developing its operations and products independently. Several business areas and products are far from SSAB's core steel business, and thus well-placed with Merox.
A primary example of the co-operation between Merox and SSAB is the extensive internal recycling of ferrous materials. Scrap is reused in the steel mills, often first by removing solidified slag followed by cutting into smaller pieces. Fine-grained materials are also utilized in the form of briquettes. Iron, carbon and calcium are combined using binders to form a briquette (well-defined nugget), which is then used together with other raw materials for iron production. Development and co-operation since the 1980s has led to today's optimized briquettes, which are now an obvious raw material for SSAB's three iron production sites in Finland and Sweden.
The largest volume of by-products is the granulated blast furnace slag from the metallurgical process. A variety of applications and products have been developed for blast furnace slag: raw material for cement and other types of binders, road construction products, asphalt aggregates, binders for soil stabilization and filter material for water purification. Other slags can, among other applications, be used as liming agents for agriculture or asphalt aggregates.
Materials produced during iron and steel production are utilized in the best possible way while optimizing the overall economy for SSAB.
Some future challenges for Merox will be to support SSAB’s long-term goal of producing fossil-free steel. The changes to SSAB’s metallurgical processes will create the drive for Merox to develop new products and processes, and continue to deliver both long-term and flexible solutions.