Rio Tinto to develop carbon-free steelmaking with Salzgitter

Rio Tinto and Salzgitter Group will jointly study using the miner’s Canadian and Australian iron ore for Salzgitter’s SALCOS green steel smelting project in Germany.

The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on exploring optimisation of iron ore pellets, lump and fines for use in hydrogen direct reduction steelmaking projects, Kallanish learns from Rio Tinto’s announcement. They will also explore the potential for greenhouse gas emission certification across the steel value chain.

The partnership will focus on the potential use of these products in the SALCOS-Salzgitter Low CO2 Steelmaking programme, which is targeting virtually carbon-free steel production, starting step-by-step in 2025 using hydrogen direct reduction. Under the SALCOS program, Salzgitter’s carbon-based blast furnace route will gradually be replaced from the middle of this decade by direct reduction plants, initially operated by natural gas and then with a steadily increasing proportion of hydrogen.

Rio Tinto targets reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and is targeting a 15% reduction in Scope 1 & 2 emissions by 2025 on the basis of 2018 and a 50% reduction by 2030. Its approach to addressing Scope 3 emissions is to engage with its customers on climate change and work with them to develop the technologies to decarbonise.

Only last week, Salzgitter signed up with Swedish miner LKAB for a similar cooperation. LKAB provides both blast furnace and direct reduction-based steel companies with low-carbon iron ore pellets and fines. It has already started to transition its production of iron ore to carbon-free sponge iron (HBI/DRI). Salzgitter notes that very high-quality iron ore pellets are required for its SALCOS process. The planned technical cooperation entails the companies examining which prerequisites need to be created to achieve this and evaluating the potential development of iron-ore-based raw materials for the future steelmaking process route.

Kallanish Asia