Green steel cleans up with lower carbon emissions


Steel manufacturing is estimated to be responsible for around 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Key Takeaways
  • Traditionally, steel making requires stripping oxygen from iron ore to produce pure iron metal. Manufacturing uses coal or natural gas and the process releases carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Green steel is steel that creates the least emissions; a steel product that has a lower carbon footprint
  • If the ore can be extracted using less energy, at a higher grade, or with the use of hydrogen made from renewable energy to replace the fossil fuels, it is ideally suited to green steel production
Steel is the world’s most essential construction material | Image source: Pixabay
Steel is the world’s most essential construction material.

Australia can revolutionise the steel-making industry and has the technology and resources to make it happen.

ASX-listed Hawsons Iron (ASX: HIO) is building a magnetite iron project near Broken Hill in the far west of New South Wales, where the soft orebody needs less power to extract and process the magnetite concentrate and makes it easier to separate from waste, thus producing a higher-grade ore. The project will use renewable energy to increase its Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) credentials.

Hawsons Iron managing director Bryan Granzien said the methods being used at the project and the resulting higher-grade material will enable steel producers to “reduce their carbon emissions, reduce their costs and improve their product quality”.

In July, the company, which is aiming for first production in the second half of 2024, upgraded the mineral resource by 21%, and Hawsons finalised its Starlight JV buyout to secure 100% of Hawsons Iron Project in September.

Granzien said that “having these mineral resources in the higher confidence measured and indicated categories is necessary for the bankable feasibility study (BFS) and finalising our project financing package”.

Steel is the world’s most essential construction material, used in buildings, bridges, railways, cars, ships, washing machines and other electrical appliances, surgical equipment, and the knives and forks we use daily. Global steel demand is set to double in the next 30 years.

Making steel creates greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Steel manufacturing is estimated to be responsible for around 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, much of which comes from burning coal during production. Reducing the amount of CO2 emitted can help move us closer to a low-carbon future.

Around the world, Boston Metal, an American start-up, is promising to make green steel using Molten Oxide Electrolysis (MOE) technology. It uses renewable electricity to turn iron ore into liquefied metal, to push straight into downstream operations of casting or rolling. It changes the process from pellets of iron oxide being made into pellets of solid iron that then need to be melted.

Swedish steel producer SSAB and vehicle maker Volvo Group have been collaborating on “green”, or fossil-free, steel since 2021. SSAB aims to offer fossil-free steel on an industrial scale to the market in 2026.