Australian mining company BHP has partnered with global engineering firm Hatch to design an electric smelting furnace (ESF) pilot plant, cited for construction in Australia.
The facility aims to demonstrate a pathway to lower CO2 intensity in steel production using iron-ore from BHP’s Pilbara mines for the company’s steelmaking customers.
The small-scale demonstration plant will be used to collaborate with steel producers and technology providers to generate and share learnings with the aim of accelerating scale-up of ESF plant designs.
The ESF is capable of producing steel from iron-ore using renewable electricity and hydrogen replacing coking coal, when combined with a direct reduced iron (DRI) step, says Hatch.
BHP said that estimates show that reductions of more than 80% in CO2 emission intensity are potentially achievable processing Pilbara iron-ores through a DRI-ESF pathway, compared with the current industry average for the conventional blast furnace steel route.
BHP and Hatch will assess several locations in Australia for the proposed facility based on supporting infrastructure, technology skills, and the availability of local partnerships to ‘build and operate the facility’.
“We see the ESF process as a critical breakthrough in significantly reducing the carbon emissions intensity of steel production and one that provides an opportunity for iron-ore from our Pilbara mines.''Vandita Pant, chief commercial officer, BHP
“We see the ESF process as a critical breakthrough in significantly reducing the carbon emissions intensity of steel production and one that provides an opportunity for iron-ore from our Pilbara mines. The steel industry has identified the ESF as a viable option to use a wider range of raw materials and steel companies globally are looking to build commercial-scale ESF plants as part of their CO2 emission reduction roadmaps,” BHP chief commercial officer Vandita Pant said.