BHP, Rio Tinto partner with major steelmaker on decarbonisation efforts

From left to right: Tim Day of BHP, Tania Archibald of Bluescope, and Simon Trott of Rio Tinto.
Photo: BHP

Australia’s leading iron ore producers – BHP and Rio Tinto ­– have partnered with BlueScope to accelerate the decarbonisation of steelmaking by agreeing to jointly investigate the development of the country’s first ironmaking electric smelting furnace (ESF) pilot plant.

Under a framework agreement, the companies will consolidate the work each party has completed to date, leveraging both miners’ deep knowledge of Pilbara iron ores with BlueScope’s unique operating experience in ESF technology. 

“Combining our expertise, we hope to help fast track near-zero emission-intensity pathways for steelmakers using Pilbara ores,” said Incoming BHP Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) Asset President Tim Day. 

“Technology pathways compatible with renewable energy and scalable to the order of hundreds of millions of tonnes of steel production would be a major step forward in setting up Pilbara ores, and the world, for a low greenhouse gas emission future.”

The collaboration aims to demonstrate that production of molten iron from Pilbara ores is feasible using renewable power when combined with Direct Reduced Iron process technology. The parties said they will assess several locations in Australia for the proposed pilot facility, and will consider factors like supporting infrastructure, available workforce, and suitability for operational trials. 

The pre-feasibility study work program is expected to conclude at year-end. If approved, the pilot facility could be commissioned as early as 2027.

Source: BHP

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