Tag Archives: renewable energy

Australian Potash enlists help of PWR Hybrid for Lake Wells renewable microgrid

Australian Potash Ltd says PWR Hybrid has been awarded “Preferred Proponent status” to build, own and operate a circa-35 MW hybrid renewable microgrid at its Lake Wells sulphate of potash project (LSOP) in Western Australia.

The power purchase agreement will be finalised through the early contractor involvement process the companies will now progress, with an improved indicative levelised cost of energy to the recently published front end engineering design study, Australian Potash said.

PWR Hybrid brings over 28 years of experience in developing power solutions to remote sites across the globe, including more than 350 MW of solar installations, according to the company.

The company also commissioned an assessment of the LSOP’s greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint as part of its preparation for compliance with the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) regime, effective in Europe from March 10, 2021. This assessment, taking into consideration the power balance across the project and energy usage through to ports of loading in Western Australia, concluded that the LSOP will produce a CO2-e GHG that is materially lower than either a comparable Mannheim operation (LSOP<Mannheim by 69%) or solar-salt/brine operation (LSOP<other by 49%), the company said.

Australian Potash Managing Director and CEO, Matt Shackleton, said: “Strategically, we shifted the focus of the LSOP development and operations to a sustainable energy footing to capture and leverage the already low GHG footprint of a solar-salt project. With the benefit of time, and rigorous and methodical planning, several alternative configurations for the LSOP microgrid were presented and assessed.

“With our vision on the operational future of the LSOP, and therefore our end users, we consider it vital to address sustainable production of SOP as a critical path item. To that end, we have commissioned a formal, rigorous ESG audit of the LSOP which will further provide our distribution partners, end users and investors with third party validation of the project’s ESG qualities.”

The LSOP microgrid will be developed in a staged approach, with the thermal component to be completed within around 15 months of the company making a final investment decision. This timeline ensures power supply preparedness for steady-state operations.

PWR Hybrid’s Director, Ryan Green, said: “We’re extremely pleased to be awarded preferred bidder status by Australian Potash. This is further recognition of PWR Hybrid’s capabilities in the hybrid power station market.

“Having recently delivered a 12 MW gas-fired power station in Western Australia, and commenced work on the hybridisation of that project, the company is well-positioned to partner with Australian Potash to provide an industry-leading hybrid power station at the LSOP.”

Key outcomes from the 2019 definitive feasibility study on Lake Wells include:

  • 30-year mine life producing 150,000 t/y of premium grade SOP utilising approximately 21% of the total measured resource estimate;
  • Long mine life underpinned by 3.6 Mt reserve and 18.1 Mt measured resource estimate;
  • Development capex of A$208 million ($153 million) with capital intensity of A$1,387/t; and
  • First quartile industry operating costs of $262/t providing high cash operating margins.

Photo credit: juwi

New Kalgoorlie metals research lab to pave the way for mining’s greener future

Curtin University is to open a new research lab geared towards carbon-neutral metal production paths at its Kalgoorlie campus in Western Australia.

Curtin’s WA School of Mines: Minerals, Energy and Chemical Engineering Head of School, Professor Michael Hitch, said the Kalgoorlie Metals Research Laboratory would explore cleaner alternatives through teaching and research that would pave the way for a greener future for the industry.

“The Kalgoorlie Metals Research Laboratory will provide undergraduate students with practical education in carbon-neutral metal production paths, which is particularly important given they are the generation that will help decarbonise the mining industry in the most challenging area of pyrometallurgy,” Professor Hitch said.

Iron ore processing expert, Dr John Clout, has been appointed the Professor of Practice in Pyrometallurgy at the lab with Curtin’s WA School of Mines Kalgoorlie Director, Sabina Shugg, saying he would oversee a high-tech laboratory, fitted with experimental high temperature furnace equipment, capable of simulating the complete industrial process to test renewable energy and green hydrogen sources in the metal extraction process of pyrometallurgy, which currently require fossil fuels.

“Highly respected in the field of pyrometallurgy, Professor Clout will bring real-world experience to the laboratory’s teaching and research, ensuring we contribute to a sustainable future for the Western Australia resources industry,” Shugg said.

Professor Clout said he was thrilled to support the new research hub’s development as an internationally-recognised laboratory and pilot-scale pyrometallurgical research facility for undergraduate teaching and applied research.

“The Kalgoorlie Metals Research Laboratory will aim to develop end-to-end production paths that set new standards for efficiency, value and carbon neutral management, which will ultimately support a cleaner future,” he said.

“After working in the gold, iron ore and nickel industries for more than four decades, I am especially excited to be working with the future leaders of the resources sector to find the most efficient renewable energy sources and processes for pyrometallurgy.

“There is significant potential for industry to be extracting and producing critical metals right here in Western Australia, especially in the Goldfields where there is significant scope for renewal energy production, untapped critical mineral resources, an existing infrastructure network and workforce.”

The Kalgoorlie Metals Research Laboratory has been established as the result of a A$600,000 ($443,697) grant from Curtin University.

The new research facility is also seeking support from industry and private donors for the purchase of additional equipment and ongoing industry-funded projects.

BHP and TransAlta agree on solar, battery power system for Mt Keith and Leinster

BHP and its power partner in the Goldfields of Western Australia, TransAlta, are to build two solar farms and a battery storage system to help power the Mt Keith and Leinster nickel operations.

This will help BHP reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12%, based on financial year 2020 levels.

The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will include a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith and a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW battery at Leinster, and will displace power currently supplied by diesel and gas turbine generation, BHP said.

This will result in an estimated reduction of 540,000 t of CO2e over the first 10 years of operation. This is the equivalent of removing up to 23,000 combustion engine cars from the road every year, according to BHP.

BHP commissioned the solar farms and battery to be built, owned, and operated by TransAlta as part of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) extension signed in October 2020. Construction will commence in the December quarter, is expected to take 12-14 months and, at its peak, will employ over 100 people on site.

BHP Nickel West, Asset President, Eddy Haegel, said: “This is the first large-scale onsite solar farm and battery that BHP has commissioned at any of its global operations.

“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will further improve our position as one of the lowest carbon nickel miners in the world. It will reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12%, reduce fuel costs and improve the reliability of our electricity supply with the addition of the battery storage system.

“This announcement follows the nickel supply agreement we signed with Tesla last week. Sustainable low carbon nickel is essential for our battery and electric vehicle customers.”

TransAlta Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer, John Kousinioris, said: “We are proud to be supporting BHP’s emissions reduction targets and sustainability goals through the expansion of our renewable generation footprint into Australia.”

The partnership will contribute to BHP’s medium-term target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions from our operated assets by at least 30% from financial year 2020 levels by its 2030 financial year.

The project is subject to final Western Australia state government approvals.

Mader Group hits another quarterly record as it keeps expanding

Mobile and fixed plant equipment maintenance provider Mader Group has declared a stellar set of quarterly financials that included a second consecutive quarterly revenue figure.

Revenue for the three months to the end of June came in at A$86.4 million ($63.5 million), up 24% on the prior corresponding period (PCP), and up 14% on the previous quarter.

Revenue generated in Australia increased to A$77 million, up 21% on the PCP, driven by high levels of customer demand, while, in North America, quarterly revenue increased to A$6.8 million, up 45% on the PCP excluding foreign exchange movements (30% on an A$ basis).

The company said its preparations for operational delivery into Canada were now complete with customer negotiations well advanced.

Reflecting on Mader Group’s quarterly performance, Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer, Justin Nuich, said: “On the back of two consecutive quarters of record revenue growth, we close our books for the financial year with A$304 million in revenue and with a strong earnings result to follow. This is very pleasing and reflects the strength of our labour-focused business model.

“Our operations are more flexible and adaptable than ever, housing a dynamic in-house workforce of more than 1,600 skilled tradespersons deployed across nearly 400 sites globally. In all locations, we have prioritised the needs of our customers and our people, safely delivering over 3.4 million hours of specialised equipment maintenance for financial year 2021.”

During the period, the company continued to develop its internal safety systems to ensure the health and wellbeing of a largely remote workforce. Mader prioritised the continued roll out of a bespoke in-vehicle monitoring system for its service fleet, seeing considerable improvement in driver behaviour over the quarter, it said.

Mader also commenced trialling its safety-focused mobile app to its North American workforce.

The platform, which is already widely accessible to Mader employees within Australia, is designed to connect Mader employees to its digitally integrated safety processes, resources and company alerts.

Within Mader’s Australian operations, the group’s infrastructure and ancillary maintenance service lines remained a key focus in the business’ growth strategy. Continued diversification saw the company expand its ancillary service offerings.

“Moving into climate control support for mobile equipment, Mader supported a renewable energy project in a bid to convert diesel-electric haul trucks, exploration drills and locomotives into zero emissions technology,” the company said.

“Mader also worked with a local OEM to conduct off-site rebuilds for plant conveyors and mills. Revenue generated from the business’s ancillary maintenance services increased 21% vs PCP and by 12% vs PCP for its infrastructure maintenance services.”

Mader said its core service areas also gained traction during the quarter leading to the expansion of its in-field maintenance operations for heavy mobile equipment, driven by high customer demand across Australia. In Western Australia, this included growth in its Rapid Response team and “specialised equipment maintenance offerings”.

The company added: “Our disruptive business model continues to roll out into a large addressable market that has an appetite for significant additional capacity. All of our core business divisions continue to grow and our strategy of building new divisions that address new geographic locations or that provide additional trades and services is driving further growth.

“We are seeing structural advances in the Australian market as large owner-miners continue to develop multibillion-dollar resource projects, ultimately increasing the size of the maintainable mining fleet.”

State of Play mine electrification report sheds light on benefits, hurdles and risks

More than half of mining industry executives say they would electrify their mine sites for cost reasons, according to the latest State of Play report on electrification.

With the mining industry rapidly adopting new technologies to decarbonise their operations, the Australia-based State of Play platform has, again, sought to gather industry perspectives on the reasons companies are pursuing their shift away from fossil fuels.

The latest report follows the inaugural State of Play: Electrification report, released in 2020. This report, in part, led to the formation of the Electric Mine Consortium, a collaboration between mining and service companies aiming to accelerate progress towards the fully electrified zero CO2 and zero particulates mine.

The findings from the latest report – which took into account 450-plus individual surveys, five industry webinars and workshops and five interviews with “thought leaders” – have reinforced that mine electrification is a foundation enabler for the clean energy transformation of mine sites.

“The mining industry sees it as one of the most pressing transformation imperatives for the industry, facilitating precision automation and the digitisation of mine operations, whilst improving environmental and health outcomes,” it said.

At the same time, the report acknowledges that mine electrification technology is currently undergoing a “maturation process” with 49% of mining CEOs referenced in the report believing it will take existing mines on average five-to-10 years to electrify.

“Much of the technology for full electrification of mine sites is available today, however a significant knowledge gap exists across industry relating to the capability of electrified mines and the strategy for implementation,” it said.

Of the industry executives surveyed for the report, 57% expect the energy transition to be ‘the’ global trend that will have the biggest impact on the industry over the next 15 years.

Close to 90% (89%) expect mine sites will electrify within the next 20 years and 61% expect the “next generation” of mines will be all-electric.

In keeping with this, 83% expect renewable energy technologies will significantly change mining operations over the next 15 years; and 98% view mine automation as ‘the’ technology to benefit the most from electrification.

The responses related to benefits expected from this transition brought up some of the most interesting insights into the mine electrification evolution, indicating there are environmental, cost and reputation risk advantages associated with electrifying operations.

For instance, of the survey respondents, just over 90% (91%) expected the shift to an electrified system to create opportunities for new business models, while just over half (53%) say they would electrify their mine sites for cost reasons. The latter indicates that the cost of operating, establishing and maintaining new electrified equipment and infrastructure is now at a point where it could not only compete, but provide an economic advantage over fossil fuel-powered operations in the long term.

Close to four-fifths of respondents (79%) expect there to be a health-related industry class action in the next 15 years – indicating the reputational risk that could come with maintaining the operational status quo.

Some 71% view processing and 68% view extraction as having the greatest leverage in decarbonising the mining value chain, the report confirmed, while 46% expect innovation in carbon emissions and 42% expect innovation in diesel replacement will have the greatest environmental benefit in their business. Close to 90% (86%) expect transparency of the source of raw materials to become a significant driver of mining company value.

In key areas of the value chain, miners are faced with distinct choices of which technology to invest in (eg what type of battery storage technology, swap versus fast charging, etc). Of the survey respondents:

  • 60% believe miners should begin transitioning to an all-electric system with installing renewables. Electrical infrastructure was second with 37%, with heavy mobile equipment third with 32%;
  • 87% expect solar will become the most widely used energy source in the industry in the next 15 years, followed by gas, wind and diesel (58%, 44% and 39%, respectively);
  • 76% expect remote mine sites will use batteries to supplement renewables, followed by diesel with 53% and demand management at 42%;
  • There is no consensus as to which energy source will power heavy mobile equipment between lithium batteries, hybrids and diesel (28%, 21% and 18% respectively); and
  • 54% expect infrastructure to be the main challenge for transitioning mine sites to electric.

Of these stats above, the lack of consensus as to which energy source will power heavy mobile equipment is as enlightening as it is expected.

Battery-electric technology has matured to the point where one would expect it to dominate in the underground space, followed closely by fuel cell power, hybrids and some form of trolley, but it is a lot harder to predict the winner in the open-pit mining space, with major miners pursuing different developments related to hydrogen, batteries, trolley assist and alternative fuels.

“The mass adoption of electrification technology and storage systems to power mine sites has so far been slow,” the report stated. “It is clear that as an industry, this knowledge gap will need to be confronted largely through testing and piloting, which allows for the development of case studies for application, economic models and best practice guidelines.”

Of survey respondents:

  • 88% see cost as being the major risk of electrifying a mine site;
  • 63% report that risk aversion is holding back the implementation of electrification technologies;
  • 18% are willing to accept increased risk in asset design to increase financial returns; and
  • 41% are primarily focusing their innovation efforts on energy.

The report authors say the industry should focus on collaborating to overcome the barriers that are beyond the capacity of any one individual company to address, with such efforts requiring the mobilisation of policy makers, miners, service companies, investors and researchers in order to achieve the scale, capital and influence to drive success.

Of survey respondents:

  • The preferred partnering approach for achieving breakthrough innovations is collaborating with selected partners (65%);
  • The majority believe the best way the government can support innovation is through regulation and collaboration (#1 and #2, respectively);
  • 85% believe broad industry standards for battery types are required.
  • 52% see miners as the biggest group driving investment in electrification followed by suppliers and investors (39% and 38%, respectively); and
  • 60% believe the industry should focus its health risk innovation on airborne particulates.

Anglo American and ENGIE agree on ‘green’ electricity supply for Quellaveco

Anglo American and ENGIE’s Peru-based subsidiary have signed an agreement to convert the current contracted energy supply for the Quellaveco copper project to 100% renewable sources, in addition to agreeing on another eight years of energy supply for the mine, starting in 2029, from “green energy” inputs.

The agreement will see Quellaveco, a copper project being developed by Anglo and Mitsubishi Corp, become the first mining operation to promote the construction of a non-conventional renewable energy plant, according to ENGIE.

As part of the pact, ENGIE Energía Perú has agreed to convert the total electricity supply for Quellaveco (187 MW) to 100% green energy, with 150 MW of supply over eight years from 2029 also coming from green energy sources.

ENGIE Energía Perú will source the renewable energy from its Punta Lomitas wind power plant, an in-development wind farm with a joint nominal capacity of 260 MW located in Ocucaje-Ica and a 60 km transmission line connecting the plant with the National Interconnected Electric System. The project has been granted a generation and transmission concession by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, and construction is expected to start in the second half of 2021, the company says.

Tom McCulley, CEO of Anglo American in Peru, said: “We are working from different areas to contribute to a healthy environment. Our goal is to transform the very nature of the industry to ensure a safer, cleaner and more sustainable future.

“By resorting to the use of higher precision technologies, such as those that Quellaveco will have, as well as by focusing on consuming less energy and less water, we will reduce our environmental footprint for every kilogram of copper that we produce, starting in 2022.”

Rik De Buyserie, CEO of ENGIE Energía Peru, added: “Thanks to the renewable energy certificates delivered by the Punta Lomitas Power Plant to supply the demand for the Quellaveco project, we are proud and committed to accompany our client Anglo American and mining in Peru, on their path to carbon neutrality.”

Quellaveco, owned 60% by Anglo and 40% by Mitsubishi Corp, comes with a production blueprint of 300,000 t/y of copper over the first 10 years of the mine, with first production expected in 2022.

Aggreko to energise mine power space with investment proposition

Mobile power provider Aggreko says it is making the transition from being a pure power provider to a long-term mining project investor that is helping miners navigate the energy transition.

Aggreko has built an almost 60-year-long reputation for powering many sectors around the globe. It has also supplied power and underground cooling to the mining sector for more than 35 years and has evolved into life-of-mine contracts and renewables.

In its latest report – which details its future energy transition – Aggreko cites mining as a major growth sector. Aggreko Australia Pacific Managing Director, George Whyte, stated that Aggreko’s global team’s unique offering is with build-own-operate investments across all continents.

As well as continuing to invest upward of £250 million ($347 million) annually in technology and innovation, the company says it is ready to further boost its investments in the natural resources industry.

Whyte said: “Investor partnerships can support the rapid changes in technology and emissions compliance that our mining customers are facing. Investing millions of dollars in capital for a mine’s power plant is a risk for any company, and, as a partner, Aggreko takes on this risk instead of the mining company. It is a smart way for miners to do business in the post-COVID and renewables era.”

Aggreko’s Global Head of Mining, Rod Saffy, said miners struggling to get funding for capital expenditure projects were looking to outsource, and there was a trend toward creating partnerships with providers.

“Partnerships provide more value beyond de-risking project finances,” Saffy said. “There are technology and emissions risks, so by partnering with us, for example, we aren’t just supplying equipment and labour, we share in decision making and project milestones, we invest and update technology on-site and navigate social and environmental impacts together.”
Saffy said companies looking to build power stations for the first time particularly benefited from supportive partnerships with Aggreko.

“Power stations are our core business, and they have become much more complex on mine sites than they have been in the past,” he said. “It is challenging to get funding to build power stations, and miners are needing support to integrate renewables into their plans immediately or in the future, or needing solutions designed from scratch.

“Partnering with us is a sustainable and beneficial business solution. Miners are wanting hybrid power stations that might utilise a mix of energy sources such as diesel, gas, solar or battery, for example. They also want that power to be scaled up or down and upgraded as their needs change and new technology comes online.”

Saffy said mines throughout the world were becoming less dependent on mass-scale thermal plants to deliver baseload power through national grids.

“With the cost of renewable power generation falling, there is also growth in localised microgrids, which means less dependence or complete independence from the grid,” he said. “Miners in Australia, Africa and South America, where there is less infrastructure in remote locations, are finding it particularly helpful to partner with us from the start of a major project.”

One such example is the Gold Fields Salares Norte Mine in northern Chile where Aggreko has become a major investor, and partner for the mining project for at least 10 years. The mine is located 190 km from the nearest town and is 4,500 m above sea level, and Aggreko is creating an off-grid hybrid power solution, comprising of diesel and solar for the harsh environmental conditions. Aggreko estimates the mine will experience $7.4 million in cost energy savings across the 10 years.

Saffy said the benefits for Aggreko in partnering and investing with miners from the beginning of their project to the end of the life of mine was beneficial for both parties.

“As a partner, Aggreko de-risks the threat of future innovation and technology for miners,” he said. “Our build, own, operate and maintain model frees up working capital without increasing the debt ratio for mining projects. Modular equipment also gives miners the ability to leverage innovation at low risk and not be concerned about having the latest equipment.

“We benefit too, by showcasing our expertise and innovations throughout a project’s lifecycle and support mining companies to reduce emissions and increase their operational efficiencies.”

Late last year, Aggreko committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Polyus’ Olimpiada and Blagodatnoye mines to operate on 100% renewable energy

PJSC Polyus’ decarbonisation plans have accelerated with an agreement for the supply of environmentally friendly electricity generated from PJSC RusHydro’s Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro power plant to its Krasnoyarsk Business Unit (KBU) in Russia.

The agreement, which assumes the provision of approximately 1 billion kWh of energy to KBU in 2021, means up to 90% of the electricity demand from the company’s production facilities will be met by renewable sources.

Once supplies under this contract commence, 100% of the electricity consumed by Polyus’ largest producing assets, Olimpiada (pictured) and Blagodatnoye, will be renewable.

Based on this estimate, KBU expects to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2021 by almost half, while company-wide GHG emissions may decrease by a third compared with the previous year.

The agreement will cover the period until December 31, 2021, with the possibility of an extension, Polyus said.

In 2020, Polyus and RusHydro signed a five-year bilateral agreement for the sale and purchase of electricity produced by hydroelectric power plants on the territory of a technologically isolated electric power system in the Magadan region. The volume of electricity supplied under this agreement was greater than 300 million kWh/y.

Pavel Grachev, Chief Executive Officer of PJSC Polyus, commented: “This deal marks the transition of Polyus’ core business unit to renewable energy sources and represents a landmark event for our company. Climate change is a global challenge, and it is important that as a responsible business we support the decarbonisation of the global economy. For this reason, we are choosing to power our production assets with energy sources that will minimise our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Aggreko commits to ‘net zero’ targets, supporting customers through energy transition

Aggreko has announced its ambition to be “net zero” by 2050 or sooner, aligning with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

The company, which has delivered many off-grid power solutions to the mining sector, a number of which have renewable energy inputs, has also committed to offering cleaner technologies and fuels to support its customers through their energy transition – using flexible and competitive energy solutions to meet their environmental sustainability targets.

By 2030, Aggreko says it will:

  • Reduce the amount of fossil diesel fuel used in customer solutions by at least 50% by offering customers cleaner technologies and fuels that guarantee the same or better level of reliability and competitiveness;
  • Reduce local air quality emissions of their solutions also by 50% (all emissions from diesel, gas and other fuels); and
  • Achieve net zero across all its own business operations.

By 2050 or sooner, it says it will also be a “net zero” business across all the services it provides.

The company explained: “For a number of years, Aggreko has been making progress in providing cleaner solutions for customers around the world, such as turning waste gas into power or by incorporating battery storage, solar, and more efficient and near zero local emissions generators. Aggreko is pioneering by partnering with many leading organisations across industry sectors that aim to be net zero or close to net zero within the next decade, supporting them in navigating the complexity and the cost challenges they face in achieving their own commitments.”

To achieve its 2030 and 2050 ambitions, Aggreko plans to accelerate investment in lower-carbon technologies and will continue to shift its global generator fleet towards more gas and greener drop-in liquid fuels. It will also invest in other clean energy alternatives such as e-fuels, hydrogen-ready engines and fuel cells, in preparation for rapid exploitation as the technology becomes available at scale, while also closely monitoring and investigating future technologies, the company said.

Aggreko is to accelerate its offering of more efficient solutions notably through temperature control, energy recovery, co- or tri-generation, it said. Simultaneously, it will continue to grow its portfolio of mobile and modular solar power and battery storage assets, which, when combined with its generator fleet, helps customers to successfully reduce their carbon emissions and costs.

“Aggreko will continue to enhance the use of connected systems, remote monitoring and data analytics to increase efficiency and track performance against its own and its customers’ emissions reduction targets,” the company said.

Chris Weston, CEO of Aggreko, said: “The energy transition is fundamentally changing the way power is generated and delivered. Our customers’ needs are evolving – they require cleaner solutions but without compromising reliability, modularity or cost efficiency. We’ve already begun transforming our fleet and solutions to meet changing customer needs and to achieve our objective to become a net zero company.”

He added: “Our customers are looking to reduce their carbon and air quality emissions and we are the perfect partner to support them in their journey. With our expertise in hybrid solutions and efficient thermal generation, we are already supporting them across the world through the energy transition.”

He concluded: “Our industry-leading net zero commitments are ambitious but achievable and put us on the path to reduce both our own environmental footprint and that of our customers as we look ahead to a greener future.”

Fortescue’s Forrest opens up about iron ore miner’s ‘green steel’ ambitions

Fortescue Metals Group Chairman and founder, Dr Andrew Forrest (pictured), has revealed the iron ore miner has plans to build Australia’s first “green steel” pilot plant this year.

A commercial plant, powered entirely by wind and solar, could be constructed in the next few years he said in the first Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Boyer Lecture for 2021, entitled: ‘Oil vs Water: Confessions of a Carbon Emitter’.

In a wide-ranging talk, he acknowledge that Fortescue was trialling both known methods of making “zero-carbon-steel” without the use of coal in Australia: replacing coal in the furnace with ‘green hydrogen’ and adding carbon separately to strengthen the steel, and “zap[ping] the ore with renewable electricity”.

On the development of such an industry, Forrest said: “We could look at losing our coal industry as a national disaster – yet, I’ve always believed, out of every setback, is the seed of equal or greater opportunity.

“We produce over 40% of the world’s iron ore. And our potential green energy and hydrogen resources are immeasurable.

“If Australia were to capture just 10% of the world’s steel market, we could generate well over 40,000 jobs – more than what’s required to replace every job in the coal industry.”

Fortescue, through its Fortescue Future Industries company, has been signing agreements to leverage hydro-electric power and geothermal energy to become one of the “world’s largest green energy and product businesses”, Forrest said.

“We’re now undertaking feasibility studies that could lead to some 300 GW of power – more than four times what Australia can produce,” he explained.

Forrest also mentioned some of the decarbonisation work Fortescue is currently working on.

Back in December, Fortescue Chief Operating Officer, Greg Lilleyman, announced the company was working on developing an in-house, non-diesel 240 t haul truck prototype that will test both battery-electric and fuel-cell electric drivetrain technology in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

Seemingly referencing this project, Forrest said: “By the end of the decade, our trucks will run on renewable energy. Imagine that: a fleet of vehicles that produces nothing more than steam as exhaust.”

He also said the company was aiming to develop “green iron ore trains” powered by either renewable electricity or “green ammonia”.

Looking at the company’s shipping operations, he said 2021 would see the company “begin to settle designs” that allow its ships to run on “zero-pollution, green ammonia”.

He added: “And we’re willing to share that knowledge, to help our competitors go green too – including Vale, one of the largest mining companies in the world.”