Industrial consortium launches DRI project in France to produce ‘green steel’

A cross-sector grouping of companies has set up a new consortium, GravitHy, to build a 2 million mt/year direct reduced iron plant in the south of France, with the output to be used either on-site as a feedstock to produce “green steel” or else traded globally as hot-briquetted iron, the partners said in a statement June 30.

The project, which plans to mobilize Eur2.2 billion ($2.3 billion) worth of investment at commissioning, will build its first plant in the area of Fos-sur-Mer, in southern France, with construction set to start in 2024. The consortium aims for the plant to be fully operational by 2027, subject to the required regulatory approvals, the partners added.

The company said that the new project, which will use low-carbon hydrogen to produce DRI, will support the growing demand for zero-carbon steel, while also contributing to Europe’s “Fit for 55” climate ambitions to decarbonize hard-to-abate industries.

“There is considerable appetite to transform energy-intensive industries in France, with the steel sector high on the agenda,” according to Karine Vernier, GravitHy’s consortium leader. “GravitHy will be a vital component in the French government’s proposed steel roadmap and its ambitions to cut CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030. It’s time to make a step-change in technology, to replace old blast furnaces with DRIs produced from green and low-carbon hydrogen and combined with electric arc furnaces.”

The steel sector is responsible for 8% of global energy demand and 7% of CO2 emissions — including process emissions — annually, making it one of the biggest carbon-emitting industries.

GravitHy’s founders include EIT InnoEnergy, Engie, FORVIA, GROUPE IDEC, Plug and Primetals Technologies.

Asian seaborne iron ore prices weakened June 29 as a recent price rebound lacked support from end-users. The 62% Fe Iron Ore Index was at $123.20/dry mt CFR North China June 29, down $1.80/dmt from June 28, according to the Platts assessment from S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Annalisa Villa