ArcelorMittal has announced that it has signed a letter of intent with the Governments of Belgium and Flanders, supporting a €1.1 billion project to build a 2.5 million-tonne direct reduced iron (DRI) plant at its site in Gent, as well as two new electric furnaces.

The two electric furnaces will melt the DRI and scrap steel, which will then be transformed in the steel shop into steel slabs and then further processed into finished products. The furnaces will be able to take waste wood and plastics as a substitute for fossil carbon.

Once the DRI and electric furnaces are built, there will be a transition period during which production will move gradually from blast furnace A, to the DRI and electric furnaces, after which blast furnace A will be closed. By 2030, this will result in a reduction of around three million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.

The DRI plant will operate alongside Gent’s blast furnace B, which restarted production in March 2021 following a significant investment of €195 million.

Various decarbonisation initiatives, including the commissioning in 2022 of Gent’s Steelanol/Carbalyst and Torero projects will see annual CO2 emissions reduction of 0.9 million tonnes by 2030.

The combination of the new DRI plant alongside a sustainable, state-of-the-art blast furnace enables the creation of unique synergies in ArcelorMittal Belgium’s roadmap to climate-neutral steelmaking.

The hybrid model approach of Smart Carbon and Innovative DRI steelmaking in Gent fits into ArcelorMittal Belgium’s CO2 roadmap (more information can be seen via the link below).

Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium, commented on the plans:

“To tackle the climate crisis, we need ambitious action. European countries are leading the way, with clear targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050. It is good to see that sectors with a large footprint are also joining the race by investing in innovation that reduces emissions and, in the long term, achieves carbon neutrality. This major investment in new technology by ArcelorMittal is important for the wider Ghent region, for reducing our country's footprint, and shows that decarbonising our economy is a joint effort.”

Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium

Vincent Van Peteghem, Deputy Prime Minister of the Belgian Government and Belgian Minister of Finance, added:

“In order for us to enable climate transition for a better, healthier tomorrow it is crucial for government and industry to come together in this crucial pivoting point in time. ArcelorMittal is proving to be a leading example for this transition in our region. This joint effort is not only securing the presence of ArcelorMittal in our region but is also quintessential in lending the Ghent region healthy & clean air for all.”

Vincent Van Peteghem, Deputy Prime Minister of the Belgian Government and Belgian Minister of Finance

Aditya Mittal, CEO, ArcelorMittal, said:

“Today’s announcement is the third major decarbonisation project we have announced in the past two months, demonstrating how we are taking firm steps to decarbonise our operations and crucially, to accelerate progress in the decade ahead. None of these projects would be possible without government backing, so we are very grateful to the governments of Belgium and Flanders for their ongoing support as we transition to net-zero steelmaking. Today’s announcement of our project to build a 2.5 million-tonne DRI plant that will co-exist with and complement the Smart Carbon pathway in which we are already investing in Gent, is an example of the kind of transformational change we want and need to implement in order to accelerate ArcelorMittal’s journey to net-zero steelmaking.”

Aditya Mittal, CEO, ArcelorMittal

Manfred Van Vlierberghe, CEO, ArcelorMittal Belgium, said:

“ArcelorMittal Belgium has a passion for sustainability and circularity. We continue to invest and launch new projects in order to remain at the forefront of energy and climate transition. This €1.1 billion project is a major milestone in our decarbonisation journey. The DRI plant and two electric furnaces will result in a sharp decrease of CO2 emissions while the relined blast furnace will contribute to recycling waste wood and end-of-life plastics. This approach contributes to strengthening our global leadership in terms of CO2 and energy efficiency in the steel sector.”

Manfred Van Vlierberghe, CEO, ArcelorMittal Belgium

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