The combination of plummeting steel prices and soaring gas prices in North America and Mexico led last year to a 7.5 per cent reduction in global DRI production to 40.5 million tonnes, the first decline after nearly two decades of rapid growth, Midrex says. The rock-bottom prices in the countries of the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) led to a 34 per cent decline in Mexican DRI output. As a result, Iran climbed up one place to become the world’s third-largest DRI producer. Exports from Venezuela were also hit by the low NAFTA prices, but strong domestic demand ensured that the country retained its position as the world’s leading DRI manufacturer. Saudi Arabia and Egypt also climbed the rankings, as recently commissioned new capacity came on stream.