Photo by: Reuters
PERTH (miningweekly.com) – A new report by the Western Australian government has mapped five ways in which the state’s iron-ore could be used to reduce emissions in steelmaking, allowing the state to join the global green steelmaking value chain.
The new report delivered by the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia identified five pathways in which Western Australia could join the value chain, including green iron-ore mining, green pellets, hot briquetted iron (HBI) from green pellets using fossil fuels, HBI from renewable hydrogen, and producing green steel in Western Australia.
The report considers the size and scale of the capital requirements and infrastructure needed for these pathways, while also outlining the economic benefits that green HBI and green steel production could have for the state.
The report estimated that a green HBI industry could generate an additional A$85-billion in gross domestic product (GDP) during construction and over a 24-year operational life through to 2050, amounting to around A$3-billion a year, with the majority of this to be realised in the Pilbara region.
A green steel industry could generate an additional A$56.2-billion in GDP, the modelling showed, also over a 24-year operational life, with the vast majority of this growth also realised in the Pilbara.
A green HBI industry could generate 1 540 full time jobs over the study period, with a green steel industry generating 1 434 jobs over the same period.
The state government on Monday said that Western Australia's access to low-cost clean energy enabled higher grade iron feedstock products, such as green iron in the form of hot HBI, to be a potential avenue for steelmakers to consider producing in the state.
As green hydrogen technology continues to emerge and more renewable energy infrastructure is established, the report identifies the state's access to natural gas and renewable energy resources as key to supporting emissions reductions in steelmaking.
In the meantime, international demand for Western Australia's direct shipping of iron-ore material is expected to continue.
“Our state's abundant renewable energy resources alongside our world-leading iron-ore industry puts Western Australia front and centre in the global push towards green steel,” said Premier Roger Cook.
“Moving up the green steel value chain will diversify our economy and create more local jobs right across the state. This report delivers on an important election commitment and will help to position Western Australia as an investment destination for low-emissions steel opportunities.”
Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said that the report demonstrated a small-scale 4.8-million-tonne-a-year vertically integrated magnetite HBI plant in the Pilbara could generate taxation benefits in the order of A$31.7-billion to Australians during construction and operations through to 2050.
It is estimated that the 4.8-million-tonne-a-year plant would increase employment in the Western Australian iron-ore sector by 1 700 full-time employees.
“The government now has a comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing the steel industry in its decarbonisation efforts and opportunities for future value adding of iron-ore in Western Australia.
“The transition option of using natural gas has the potential to reduce emissions from iron making by 65% and is technically feasible today. This information can be used to support investment attraction into Western Australia,” Johnston said.
“There is increasing interest in Western Australia by the steel industry given the access to our iron-ore resources and renewable energy options. Coordinated efforts will be required to secure that investment.”