Von der Leyen suggests Mauritania-EU green steel exports

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has suggested Mauritania use its renewable energy resources to produce low-emission steel for export to Europe, Kallanish notes.

Von der Leyen, together with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and European banking and industry representatives, met with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani in Nouakchott last week to discuss regional security, migration and green hydrogen development.

The Commission President said the EU wants to produce 10 million tonnes/year of green hydrogen by 2030, but also needs to import another 10mt and is therefore looking for partners abroad. With the right investment and infrastructure, Mauritania can harness over 350 gigawatts of renewable energy from the wind and sun, she added.

But, somewhat surprisingly given the concerns over deindustrialisation in Europe, von der Leyen also suggested Mauritania go into green steel competition with the EU.

“Mauritania is … Africa’s second-largest iron producer and the majority of your iron is exported as raw ore,” she noted. “But if we have clean energy coming into the game, the processing into green steel could stay here in Mauritania and that’s a huge step because this is the added value, this is where the jobs are, this is where the prosperity is.”

“You could export iron and premium green steel. The technology works, but … the production of green steel needs an essential input and that is green hydrogen,” she continued.

“Demand for Mauritania’s green hydrogen and potentially green steel is set to grow exponentially in the European single market … This is an excellent business case,” von der Leyen opined. The Commission will support building the required infrastructure and training the local workforce, she added.

A European business mission will visit Mauritania in March to explore investment opportunities, following up on the 8 February meeting in Nouakchott.

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