Japan’s ITOCHU Corporation says a memorandum on SDGs collaboration has been signed with the Brazilian CSN Group “as a model case for initiatives, along with the implementation of business partnerships with companies in Japan and abroad that possess excellent technologies, with the aim of promoting decarbonisation and digital transformation (DX) in the field of metals and mineral resources.”
ITOCHU owns Brazilian iron ore mining interests (Casa de Pedra- CdP Mines) together with the CSN Group and both have agreed on collaborating in decarbonisation and DX to increase operational efficiency at the CdP Mines and to contribute to decarbonisation at the Mines and CSN steel work. “Moreover, ITOCHU also plans to conduct broader collaboration, including current ITOCHU decarbonisation initiatives in the field of metals and minerals, as a way to further contribute to decarbonisation of CSN Group operations, such as through low-carbon ironmaking technology, hydrogen and ammonia, and CCUS.”
CSN recently put funding in place for the expansion of CdP Mines which are located at Congonhas in southeastern Minas Gerais. The mines currently have a 33 Mt/y capacity but this will rise to 108 Mt/y by 2033 with the introduction of dry stacked tailings a major part of the strategy. ITOCHU holds a stake in Congonhas Minérios SA which operates the CdP Mines.
To promote digital transformation to improve operational efficiency, cut costs, and increase safety in metal and mineral resources, ITOCHU has entered into business partnerships with companies (solution vendors) in Japan and abroad that possess excellent digital solutions, know-how, and track records with regard to improving all the relevant processes. These include Shell’s Oren B2B marketplace, mining software & digital twin major MineRP, now part of Epiroc, asset and process optimisation solutions provider GE Digital; drone technology company SensynRobotics & LiDAR cloud base system company Scan X.
ITOCHU will “utilise the networks in the metal and mineral resource industry that it has built through previous interest investment and management as well as trade business to discover DX needs, introduce them to solution vendors, and take a leading role in DX matters, focusing primarily on mines where ITOCHU owns interests. It will also offer packages of multiple solutions to suit the needs of each mining company as well as make recommendations and provide initial support to those companies. Moreover, its aim is also to provide solutions that support the SDGs, such as decarbonization of operations through DX-mediated emissions control and increased safety through more sophisticated monitoring.”
As a model case of these initiatives, ITOCHU together with GE Digital started a DX project for operations at a CdP mine in April 2021. In the first stage of this project, the plan is to implement solutions to visualise operational data and administrative and financial data for managers as well as to conduct preventive maintenance at plants and relevant equipment and to analyse and improve the efficiency of operations. It is expected to contribute to improving business profitability mainly through cost reductions and improvement in metal recovery rate. In the second stage and beyond, the aim is for further efficiency improvement by linking data from mines to ports as well as more advanced data linking of ITOCHU functions and market information.
In addition to its collaboration for operational DX, in line with the growing global interest in decarbonization, ITOCHU aspires to contribute to cutting CO2 emissions at CdP Mines and other CSN businesses such as ironworks. As such, it has signed a memorandum with CSN, CSN Mineracao, and CSN Inova (the CSN Group) to work together for the SDGs and jointly investigate and potentially invest in new technologies. “We agreed to implement initiatives for operational DX and decarbonisation in the CdP Mine model case. In the future, it plans to jointly expand to third-party mines and businesses on the basis of the model case.”
ITOCHU positions ‘Strengthening Contributions to and Initiatives for the SDGs’ as one of its basic policies in its medium-term management plan Brand New Deal 2023. Centering on mines where it has interests, it will contribute to improving operational efficiency in the metal and mineral resource industry as a whole, increasing safety, and achieving the SDGs.