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Fortescue Future Industries plots path for 300 MW green hydrogen plant in Brazil

Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Fortescue Metals Group, and Porto do Açu Operações SA (Port of Açu), a subsidiary of Prumo Logistica SA, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to assess the opportunity to develop hydrogen-based green industrial projects in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Signed in late February, the MoU will allow for FFI and Port of Açu to conduct development studies into the feasibility of installing a green hydrogen plant at Port of Açu, Latin America’s largest privately owned deep-water port-industrial complex, FFI said.

Subject to the outcome of the studies, the project envisages construction of a 300 MW capacity green hydrogen plant at Port of Açu, with potential to produce 250,000 t/y of green ammonia.

The availability of green hydrogen and renewable power is expected to drive further sustainable industrialisation of the port, including production of green steel, fertilisers, chemicals, fuels and other sustainably manufactured industrial products, according to FFI. Anglo American already uses the port for exporting its iron ore from Minas-Rio.

The MoU also lays the groundwork for on-site solar power development projects, as well as off-shore wind development projects in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo.

FFI Chief Executive Officer, Julie Shuttleworth, said: “FFI is assessing renewable energy and green hydrogen opportunities globally and will lead and drive the green energy and product industry as we transition away from fossil fuels.

“I am excited to announce this MoU with Port of Açu. The opportunity to establish totally new and future large-scale industries will drive growth in the Brazilian economy. We expect the potential for new green industries at Port of Açu to substantially diversify, broaden and deepen Brazil’s already skilled workforce.”

Jose Firmo, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Açu, said: “The Port of Açu is sailing steadfastly ahead toward the sustainable economy of the future. One of the pillars of our vision for the port’s industrialisation are today’s operational energy transition projects and the renewable energy-fuelled green industries of tomorrow.

“Açu is a gateway between the growing Brazilian economy and rapidly expanding low carbon businesses around the globe.”

Firmo added: “This will be the first green hydrogen plant in the country and will place FFI and Açu at the forefront of clean energy production and the green industrialisation of Brazil.”

Subject to the completion of feasibility studies and approvals, individual projects will be developed by FFI with ownership and project finance sources to be separately secured without recourse to Fortescue, the company said.

Fortescue fast-tracks carbon neutrality aim, sets plan to trial hydrogen-powered drills

Fortescue Metals Group is accelerating its carbon neutrality efforts, with the iron ore miner now expecting to achieve this ‘green’ milestone by 2030, 10 years earlier than its previous target.

Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Fortescue, will be a key enabler of this target through the development of green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia projects in Australia, however, the company has also identified battery-electric technology as a potential diesel alternative game changer.

Dr Andrew Forrest, Chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, said: “We have joined the global battle to defeat climate change. We are trialling and demonstrating green hydrogen technologies in global-scale commercial environments, while also rapidly evolving into a green hydrogen and electricity producer of similar scale.”

In line with its 2030 aim, Fortescue, through FFI and its operations team, is undertaking to deliver several key projects by the stretch target of June 30, 2021. This, the company says, will underpin its pathway to decarbonisation.

These projects include:

  • Developing a ship design powered by green ammonia and trialling that design in new ammonia engine technology, at scale;
  • Testing large battery technology in its haul trucks – a project the company is pursuing with the help of Williams Advanced Engineering;
  • Trialling hydrogen fuel cell power for its drill rigs;
  • Trialling technology on its locomotives to run on green ammonia; and
  • Conducting trials to use renewable energy in the Pilbara of Western Australia to convert iron ore to “green iron” at low temperatures, without coal.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Each of these projects will contribute to the world’s inexorable march to carbon neutrality. Fortescue will establish that the major steel, truck, train, ship and mobile plant industries can be operated with renewable, environmentally friendly energy. This will be possible as a result of these ground-breaking Fortescue trials. Each will be tested by Fortescue using commercial-scale equipment to prove that the demand for direct green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia could one day be as large as the fossil fuel industry.”

She added: “These projects are in addition to Fortescue’s significant investment with our partners into energy infrastructure, including the Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid Project and Pilbara Energy Connect program.”

Forrest said the company’s commitment to demonstrate green hydrogen’s economic value in world-scale operations, and become a major energy exporter, means Fortescue will emerge as an “executor” of major green hydrogen projects.

He said the company’s green energy and industry initiatives may one day out-scale its iron ore business due to the global demand for renewable energy, but Fortescue’s commitment to iron ore and resources globally “remains indefeasible”.

Fortescue says it is seeking to move from being a major consumer of fossil fuel with a current trajectory of more than 1 billion litres a year of diesel being used across the operations if no remedial action is taken – to a major clean and renewable energy exporter.

FFI is advancing projects across Australia, including Tasmania, to build large-scale renewable energy and green hydrogen production capacity. This will expedite the substitution of green hydrogen and green ammonia for carbon-based fuels, it says. These projects will, with the support of Australia’s governments, contribute to a significant reduction in national carbon emissions.

AVL examining ‘green hydrogen’ potential for vanadium project

Australian Vanadium is making plans to incorporate “green hydrogen” into its mine operations in Western Australia as part of a carbon emission reduction strategy.

Vincent Algar, Managing Director of Australian Vanadium, thinks the use of green hydrogen could allow the company to reduce its carbon footprint and leverage both the economical and environmental benefits of what is a growing market.

“The green steel opportunity is one that Western Australia should particularly embrace, with the potential for many jobs to be created and a globally competitive steel industry,” he said. “This strategy can assist with environmental approvals and in attracting finance partners with an environmental, social and corporate governance focus, for AVL to bring the Australian vanadium project into production.”

The Australian vanadium project is around 40 km south-east of Meekatharra and 740 km north-east of Perth. The proposed project includes open-pit mining, crushing, milling and beneficiation at the Meekatharra site and a processing plant for final conversion to high-quality vanadium pentoxide for use in steel, specialty alloys and battery markets, to be located at a site at Tenindewa, between Mullewa and Geraldton.

The company’s strategy to incorporate hydrogen into the project includes the following areas:

  • Introducing a percentage of green hydrogen into the natural gas feed for the processing plant. The purpose of this is to reduce carbon emissions. This will be analysed fully in the company’s bankable feasibility study;
  • Offtake of ammonia from green hydrogen production for use in the final vanadium precipitation step of processing. The CSIRO is working on an ARENA (the Australian Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency) funded project to develop a production process that does not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Powering mine site or haulage vehicles to move material from the mine site to the processing plant with green hydrogen. Hydrogen generation could be undertaken at the mine site and at the processing plant for refuelling. “This is a new area of development for Australia and will need to be fully assessed for its financial implications,” the company said, adding that it is keen to work with the federal and state governments and haulage companies who have a forward plan for this technology;
  • The use of green hydrogen for steel production in the ore reduction step. AVL is seeking partnerships with companies interested in this area as it would be a “noble and efficient use” for the Fe-Ti co-product that the company plans to produce, it said; and
  • Through AVL’s 100% owned subsidiary, VSUN Energy, integrating hydrogen electrolysers in plant design, combined with energy storage utilising vanadium redox flow battery technology. To support the Government of Western Australia’s plans for a green hydrogen economy, AVL has submitted a formal response to the request for expressions of interest for the Oakajee Strategic Industrial Area Renewable Energy Strategy. “Having a project located in the Mid-West region, with a variety of ways for AVL to incorporate green hydrogen means that the company is well-positioned to leverage the emerging hydrogen economy and its financial and environmental benefits,” it said.

AVL says its project is currently one of the highest-grade vanadium projects being advanced globally with 208.2 Mt at 0.74% V₂O₅, containing a high-grade zone of 87.9 Mt at 1.06% V₂O₅, reported in compliance with the JORC Code 2012.

Goldcorp’s Éléonore gold mine cleans up its act with novel wastewater treatment

The latest winner of Goldcorp’s Global Excellence Awards 2019 to be featured in its online blog is the Éléonore gold mine and a novel system that proved its worth removing ammonia and residual cyanide by-products at the company’s Éléonore gold mine in Quebec, Canada.

Goldcorp said: “For any mining operation, effective wastewater treatment to remove contaminants is an indispensable step needed to minimise environmental impacts and maintain the mine’s social license to operate.

“When elevated concentrations of ammonia and residual cyanide by-products were detected in mill effluent at Éléonore, in 2014, the mill and environmental team took decisive action by introducing a novel wastewater treatment process that rectified the problem and secured Éléonore a Global Excellence Award for Sustainability Stewardship.”

Following Éléonore’s mill start-up in 2014, the new process water bleed (discharge) to water treatment plant (WTP) and paste backfill process resulted in increased concentrations of contaminants in water effluent, according to Goldcorp.

Even though the cause of the ammonia and residual cyanide toxicity couldn’t readily be identified, the Éléonore team immediately notified all major stakeholders, such as the Quebec Environment Ministry, Environment Canada and the Cree Nation Government – Environment Committee of Opinagow Collaboration Agreement, informing them on the extent of the problem and plans to rectify the situation.

France Trépanier, Environmental Coordinator at Goldcorp, said: “From the outset, we wanted to be very open and transparent with key stakeholders on steps we were taking to identify the source of the toxicity and plans to resolve the problem. Through ongoing dialogue and regular reporting, we were able to maintain a collaborative climate and establish strong partnerships based on mutual trust.”

During 2015 and 2016, the Éléonore team developed an action plan, investigated various water treatment options, and executed a series of projects including cyanide detox and leaching circuits optimisation to reduce effluent contamination, the company said.

The team also worked on mill water balance through its zero-bleed project with the objective of reducing contaminant process water discharge to the WTP, which involved reducing fresh water consumption by replacing water-sealed pumps used in the mill with mechanical seal pumps. “These projects increased control of process water contaminant concentration but didn’t resolve toxicity issues,” Goldcorp said.

A consultant working on the toxicity problem recommended the Éléonore team consider zeolite treatment and a Moving Bed Bacteria Reactor (MBBR) system to process wastewater effluent. Zeolite is a mineral well known for its ability to absorb a variety of heavy metals and ammonia. MBBR, more commonly used for municipal water treatment, is an activated bacteria aeration system, where bacteria collected on porous plastic carriers breaks down organic matter from wastewater, according to Goldcorp.

A pilot project found that zeolite treatment removed ammonia but did not eliminate the toxicity. MBBR, on the other hand, could remove ammonia and cyanide by-products delivering non-toxic results at low water temperatures (8°C).

In Spring 2016, the Quebec government granted approval for Éléonore to expand its water treatment plant by adding MBBR treatment while continuing to reduce its process water discharge to reach a zero-bleed operation.

Construction got underway in the fall of 2016, and the MBBR treatment plant was commissioned in May 2017.

“Energy efficiency was one of the critical plant design considerations to minimise heating requirements in winter,” Goldcorp said. “The addition of a heat exchange system and an insulated water circuit ensured that process water could feed the MBBR to keep the bacteria-activated treatment as stable as possible during cold winter months. Now, at the second winter, treatment is achieved without any heating at a temperature around 5°C.”

From concept to completion, Éléonore workers were kept up to date on the project’s progress through regular on-site presentations and stakeholders informed of the mine’s plans through monthly reports, quarterly presentations and site visits, the company said.

Trépanier said: “Consistent communication really enabled us to demonstrate how serious we were about solving this problem, which was essential in helping secure support for this project among stakeholders and regulators.”

Following the MBBR ramp up, Éléonore reduced ammonia and cyanide by-product concentrations in its effluent by more than 90% and was designated 100% in compliance with water quality regulations in October 2017. Since MBBR has been in steady operation, mandatory effluent sampling frequency returned from weekly to monthly.

The Éléonore team recently shared its experience in implementing this novel water treatment technology at a symposium on mining and the environment. Since then, it has received numerous enquiries from other mining companies and have hosted site visits to demonstrate the water treatment process, according to Goldcorp.

“There was a lot of people from different departments working on this project over the last two-and-a-half years,” Trépanier said. “It’s very gratifying to be recognised both externally and by our peers at Goldcorp for a successful outcome. We’re very happy to share what we’ve learned with other mining companies to help improve the industry’s environmental performance.”

thyssenkrupp wins EPC contract for Egypt fertiliser complex

thyssenkrupp’s plant engineering business says it has won a major order from Egypt chemical and fertiliser manufacturer NCIC (El Nasr Company for Intermediate Chemicals).

The order for the engineering, procurement and construction of the fertiliser complex will see thyssenkrupp realise the project in a consortium with the Egyptian company PETROJET. thyssenkrupp said the order value is in the “mid-three-digit million euro range”.

Marcel Fasswald, CEO of thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, said: “We have a particularly successful partnership with Egypt stretching back more than 160 years which offers great potential for the future. Our longstanding experience in plant construction, our strong local presence and close collaboration with our customers form the basis for our success and strong market position in the region.”

Ralf Richmann, CEO Fertilizer & Syngas Technologies, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, said: “To date, we have planned and built 16 of the 17 existing nitrogen fertiliser plants in the country and are delighted that another state-of-the-art plant will now be added.”

The new fertiliser complex will be built in Ain El Sokhna, around 100 km southeast of Cairo, close to the existing NCIC phosphatic and compound fertiliser complex. It is expected to go into operation in 2022 and produce up to 440,000 t of ammonia, 380,000 t of urea and 300,000 t of calcium ammonium nitrate every year.

The new plants are part of NCIC’s plans to expand its current product portfolio to include high-quality nitrogen fertiliser for the local and export markets. Nitrogen is a key nutrient for plant growth and of critical importance for industrial agriculture.