A method and system for producing metallic iron nuggets may include providing multiple layers of agglomerates, such as briquettes, balls and extrusions, of a reducible mixture of reducing material (such as carbonaceous material) and of a reducible iron bearing material (such as iron oxide) on a hearth material layer (such as carbonaceous material) and providing a coarse overlayer of carbonaceous material over at least some of the agglomerates. Heating the agglomerates of reducible mixture to 1425.degree. C. or 1400.degree. C. or 1375.degree. C. results in formation of an intermediate product of one or more metallic iron nuggets, which may have a sulfur content of less than 0.03%, and slag, which may have less than 5% mass MgO, which may have a ratio of percent by weight sulfur in the slag over percent by weight sulfur in the metallic nuggets of at least about 12 or at least about 15.
The present invention was made with support by the Economic Development Administration, Grant No. 06-69-04501, and the Department of Energy, Sponsor Award DE-FG36-05GO15185. The United States government may have certain rights in the invention.