Manufacturing News, Steel Manufacturing, Sustainability

New WA facility to pioneer low-emissions steel

Rio Tinto has chosen the Rockingham strategic industrial area for a $215 million research and development facility in a global effort to reduce emissions in the steel industry.

The facility will trial Rio Tinto’s BioIron process which uses raw biomass like wheat straw and canola stalks to turn Pilbara iron ore into metallic iron.

This has the potential to create a low-carbon iron for steelmaking.

Premier Roger Cook said it makes sense for WA to lead the world in low-emission steelmaking as it is one of the largest iron ore producers.

“Our plan to turn WA into a renewable energy powerhouse opens up massive economic opportunities for the future, like producing low-emission steel right here at home.

“Processing iron ore in WA will create jobs, reduce the world’s carbon emissions and help to diversify and strengthen our economy for decades to come,” said Cook.

The process eliminates the need of coking coal in the steelmaking process and could result in a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from steelmaking of up to 95 per cent.

Rio Tinto first proved the effectiveness of the BioIron process in a small-scale plant in Germany.

The new Perth facility is an upsize, as it will include a semi-industrial scale pilot plant that will be 10 times the size of the plant in Germany.

The BioIron facility is expected to create around 60 construction jobs and support about 30 full-time employees, helping to develop skills in low-carbon steelmaking.

Rio Tinto chief executive Iron Ore Simon Trott said this technology has the potential to play a significant role “in a low-carbon steel future.”

“This research and development facility will further test the BioIron process, showcase Western Australian innovation capability, and further demonstrates Rio Tinto’s commitment to supporting and enabling the decarbonisation of the steel industry,” said Trott.

Fabrication of equipment for the facility will begin this year, with commissioning expected in 2026.

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