Rio Tinto and steelmaker BlueScope have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to research and design low-emissions processes for the steel value chain, including iron ore processing.
The companies will prioritise studying the use of green hydrogen instead of coking coal at BlueScope’s Port Kembla Steelworks in New South Wales to directly reduce Pilbara iron ores into a product that could then be processed in an electric melter to generate metallic iron suitable for steelmaking.
The MOU expands the partnership between the two companies, who were already jointly studying technology to reduce carbon emissions from existing iron and steelmaking processes. It will also allow more projects to be added as technologies mature.
“It is early days, but given both BlueScope and Rio Tinto are committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, we realise we need to investigate multiple pathways and strike partnerships across the steel value chain,” said Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott.
The first phase of the collaboration will be to determine the scale of a pilot plant to be based at the Port Kembla Steelworks. The plant will include a hydrogen electrolyser, direct reduction process and melter.