Tag Archives: Bluescope Steel

BHP, BlueScope and Rio Tinto to investigate Australia low-carbon steelmaking options

Australia’s two largest iron ore producers, Rio Tinto and BHP, and its biggest steelmaker, BlueScope, have partnered in their efforts to accelerate the decarbonisation of steelmaking by agreeing to jointly investigate the development of the country’s first iron making electric smelting furnace (ESF) pilot plant.

Under a new framework agreement, the companies will consolidate the work each party has completed to date, leveraging both BHP’s and Rio Tinto’s deep knowledge of Pilbara iron ores with BlueScope’s operating experience in ESF technology.

The collaboration provides a platform to develop and potentially invest in a pilot facility and aims to demonstrate that production of molten iron from Pilbara ores is feasible using renewable power when combined with direct reduced iron (DRI) process technology, they said. If successful, it could help open a potential pathway to near-zero greenhouse gas emission-intensity operations for steelmakers that rely on Australian iron ore to meet global steel demand.

The parties will assess several locations in Australia for the proposed pilot facility, and will consider factors like supporting infrastructure, available workforce, access to target industry and supply chain partners, and suitability for operational trials. The prefeasibility study work program is expected to conclude at year-end. If approved, the pilot facility could be commissioned as early as 2027.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott (right), said: “The carbon intensity of iron and steelmaking requires profound change to meet the needs of our planet and our climate objectives. We must find better ways to enable these materials to be made more sustainably through leveraging technology.

“We firmly believe the best way to tackle a challenge of this scale is through collaboration with industry and importantly this new agreement will leverage the more than two years of work we have already completed with BlueScope on this technology. We are excited to add this partnership to the suite of projects we have underway with our customers and suppliers to find better ways to accelerate their efforts to meet their decarbonisation targets.”

Incoming BHP Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) Asset President, Tim Day (left), said: “We are thrilled to partner with Rio Tinto and BlueScope to progress what we see as a potential breakthrough in reducing carbon emissions from steel production. Collaborations like this are so important for the success of these technologies and build on our work on blast furnace abatement projects, and our ongoing research and development projects with leading steelmakers, research institutes and technology providers around the world.

“Combining our expertise, we hope to help fast track near-zero emission-intensity pathways for steelmakers using Pilbara ores. Technology pathways compatible with renewable energy and scalable to the order of hundreds of millions of tonnes of steel production would be a major step forward in setting up Pilbara ores, and the world, for a low greenhouse gas emission future.”

BlueScope Chief Executive Australia, Tania Archibald (centre), said: “We have a clear vision for BlueScope in Australia as a vibrant, modern and sustainable manufacturer with a clear role to play in enabling Australia’s energy transition. Building a pathway to low emission-intensity iron and steelmaking in Australia is a key priority for our business. We’re excited to be partnering with Rio Tinto and BHP to explore the decarbonisation of the ironmaking process, and leverage the natural advantages of Australia – namely our iron ore resources and the abundant potential for renewable energy.

“We believe DRI is the most prospective technology to decarbonise our Australian business, and the development of ESF technology is key to unlocking Australia’s unique advantages in this decarbonisation journey – and, more importantly, has the potential for wider adaptation across the global steel industry. We believe that this collaboration where we can contribute BlueScope’s unique experience in operating an ESF will be key to cracking the code for Pilbara ores in low emission-intensity ironmaking.”

Bis to deliver electric fleet of forklifts to BlueScope’s Port Kembla operation

Bis has announced plans for the roll out of a new electric fleet of specialised assets at BlueScope’s Port Kembla operation in New South Wales, Australia.

The battery-powered high-capacity forklifts and associated maintenance services were a critical part of a recently secured five-year contract renewal between BlueScope and Bis for the Illawarra-located steelmaking operation; the latest in a 30-year continuous relationship between the two companies, Bis says.

The idea to incorporate electric forklifts into the new contract was inspired by BlueScope’s climate strategy and decarbonisation pathway, which sets out its approach to reducing emissions across its operations.

Bis Chief Executive Officer, Simon Atkinson, said: “Building on our strong existing partnership, we are committed to helping BlueScope achieve its low-carbon goals. The new electric forklifts are practical evidence of this. They will represent up to 63% of the new forklifts that are being rolled out, and our aim is to keep the fleet evolving. Their configurations have been optimised specifically for BlueScope. Options include small footprint, flameproof specifications, custom mast heights, extra wide carriages and thin tynes with chisel tips, dual drive tyres and a variety of specialised attachments.

“Each unit also features a range of new technology capabilities for operators as well as pedestrian safety. We want to drive sustainability improvements as much as we can for our customers, and the shared expertise we have with BlueScope is yet again delivering significant and measurable outcomes for its business.”

A reliability coordinator will provide performance metrics, insight into continuous improvement initiatives for additional sustainable savings and support for site trials and training, Bis said.

David King, Australian Steel Products Contract Manager, said BlueScope deeply values Bis’ proactive and solutions-focused approach as it works hard in targeting a 12% reduction in its greenhouse gas emission intensity for its steelmaking activities by 2030.

“We aim to create carbon efficient and climate-resilient solutions for our customers and to make this a reality we have set a goal of net zero GHG emissions across our operations by 2050,” he said. “This will only come about as a result of working collaboratively with innovative partners and suppliers, like Bis, to challenge the status quo and enable ideas to materialise across all facets of the steelmaking process.”

Mobilisation of the new contract commences in July 2024, Bis says.