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Rio Tinto and Nippon Steel examine ways to decarbonise steel value chain

Rio Tinto and Nippon Steel Corp have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly explore, develop and demonstrate technologies to transition to a low-carbon emission steel value chain.

The two companies share a long history of working together, with the first shipment of iron ore from Australia to Japan coming from Rio’s Pilbara operations in 1966 and going to Yawata Works in Kitakyushu, now part of Nippon Steel.

With this MoU, Rio Tinto and Nippon Steel are looking to enhance this relationship by extending it into new areas in support of the shared goal of significantly reducing carbon emissions across the entire steel value chain, Rio said.

“Japan’s recent announcement of its commitment to realise a carbon-neutral society by 2050 has given Japanese companies even greater impetus to accelerate their decarbonisation activities,” the miner said. “The intent of this partnership is in line with Japan’s climate ambition.”

The purpose of this partnership is to explore a breadth of technologies for decarbonisation of the entire steel value chain from iron ore mining to steelmaking, including integrating Rio Tinto’s iron ore processing technology and Nippon Steel’s steelmaking technology to establish an innovative steel manufacturing process with low carbon emissions, according to Rio.

The partners have agreed on a partnership model in line with the long-term and complex nature of the transition to carbon neutrality for the steel industry. This model allows the partners to take a long-term view to enable the pursuit of new and promising technologies as the global steel transition evolves, Rio explained.

Rio Tinto Chief Executive, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, said: “One of Rio Tinto’s four pillars in addressing climate change is to partner with customers to reduce the carbon footprint across our value chain. Nippon Steel has been an important partner for our business with a very long history and we are delighted to be able to extend our partnership to work together to reduce carbon emissions across the steel value chain.”

Eiji Hashimoto, Representative Director and President of Nippon Steel Corporation, said: “To further advance toward realising our ambitious vision on decarbonisation, we began examining our CO2 reduction scenarios that had set goals for 2030 and 2050. Rio Tinto and our company have had a long and deep trusting relationship, and we are pleased to start this partnership on the basis of that trust. We are confident that it will be a powerful lever for our company to realise the ambitious vision of decarbonisation.”