Fortescue approves $750m in green projects

21st November 2023 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

Fortescue approves $750m in green projects

The Gladstone PEM50 project will use Fortescue's own electrolyser technology.

Australia-based Fortescue Metals has given the green light for $750-million in funding over three years directed towards two green energy projects and a green steel project. This heralds a new chapter for the iron-ore miner, founded by Andrew Forrest, as it takes strides towards a sustainable energy future on a global scale.

The board of Fortescue on Tuesday announced a final investment decision (FID) for the Phoenix Hydrogen Hub, in the US, the Gladstone PEM50 project, in Queensland, and a green iron trial commercial plant in Western Australia.

These, the company said, were three of the first green hydrogen deals ever to be progressed to FID in the US and Australia, with a pipeline of projects – Pecem, in Brazil; Project Chui, in Kenya; and Holmaneset, in Norway – to follow.

The Gibson Island green hydrogen and ammonia project, in Queensland, has not progressed to an investment decision level yet and requires further work.

Fortescue stated that three approved projects represented the diversity it was after, which was to prove green hydrogen commercial scale production in the US, electrolyser capacity and performance in Queensland and new pure green ironmaking in Western Australia.

The Phoenix hydrogen hub is an 80 MW electrolyser and liquefaction facility in Arizona, with a production capacity of up to 11 000 t/y of liquid green hydrogen. Fortescue is putting $550-million into Phase 1 of project, which will deliver first production in 2026.

“The Phoenix Hydrogen Hub establishes Fortescue in one of the most attractive energy markets in the world, facilitated by the Inflation Reduction Act.

“The proximity to California, a primary heavy haulage trucking route and the most progressive US state to adopt and incentivise clean hydrogen, primes Fortescue well to deliver value into the US domestic market,” said Fortescue Energy CEO Mark Hutchinson.

The Gladstone PEM50 project is a 50 MW green hydrogen project using Fortescue’s own electrolyser technology. The project requires $150-million. Construction will start next year and first production is slated for 2025.

For the green ironmaking project, Fortescue has approved $50-million to build a pilot plant at Christmas Creek with a capacity to produce 1 500 t/y, starting in 2025. The project will use existing green hydrogen and solar generation, as well as existing hematite and magnetite ore production capacity, infrastructure and technical capacity.

Hutchinson said that Fortescue would target double-digit project returns. “This is the start of a pipeline of green energy projects we are dedicated to delivering.”

In addition to the approval of three projects, the board has selected another three to be fast-tracked.

In Brazil, Fortescue is proposing a green hydrogen and green ammonia facility at the Port of Pecem.

In Kenya, the company is looking at a 300 MW steam-to-fertiliser facility using geothermal steam. The plan is to take the electricity to hydrogen, ammonia and then fertiliser. Fortescue and the Kenya government are studying the project to replace the importation of fertiliser, which is mostly coming from Russia.

The Holmaneset project, in Norway, is a 300 MW green ammonia facility that will use renewable energy.