BHP and Tata Steel partner on low carbon steel

BHP and Tata Steel intend to collaborate on using biomass as a source of energy and applying carbon capture and utilisation in steel production

BHP has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with India’s Tata Steel, one of the world’s largest steelmakers, with the intention to jointly study and explore lower carbon iron and steelmaking technology.

Under the partnership, BHP and Tata Steel intend to collaborate on ways to reduce the emission intensity of the blast furnace steel route, via two priority areas – the use of biomass as a source of energy and the application of carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) in steel production.

The partnership aims to help both companies progress toward their respective climate change goals, and support India’s ambitions to be carbon neutral. 

The technologies explored in this partnership can potentially reduce emission intensity of integrated steel mills by up to 30 per cent. Importantly these projects demonstrate how abatements applied to the blast furnace iron-making process, which contributes to more than 60 per cent of India’s steel production, can materially reduce the carbon intensity of existing capacity. 

Beyond these projects, BHP and Tata Steel have committed to a robust ongoing knowledge-exchange that will see both parties explore further collaborations, ecosystems and business opportunities in the steel value chain, and the research and innovation sectors in both India and Australia.

BHP’s Chief Commercial Officer Vandita Pant said that the partnership highlights the importance of collaborations to successfully identify and implement emission reduction technologies in steelmaking, including developing abatements that can apply to the existing blast furnace process to incrementally reduce its carbon emissions intensity. 

She also highlighted how BHP can contribute to Tata Steel’s, and the broader steel industry’s role in helping to achieve India’s ambitions to be carbon neutral, particularly as India is expected to see robust steel demand growth over the next three decades, underpinned by a growing population and rising urbanisation.

“India has invested heavily in the blast furnace route for steel production, and its crude steel output was 118Mt last year," she said.

"It is, therefore, critical to innovate and demonstrate pathways to reduce emissions from the blast furnace, while alternative steelmaking pathways emerge and low carbon energy systems scale-up."

Partnership aims to set benchmark and find emissions solutions faster

A greener steel industry will be integral for India’s growth and decarbonisation journey, and BHP intends to work hard with Tata Steel to enable this development and hopefully set a benchmark for others in the industry to emulate and learn from, she added.

The Noamundi Iron Mine of Tata Steel was recently accorded 5-Star rating for sustainable development for 2020-21, for the sixth year running. 

"Finding pathways to net zero for steelmaking is challenging and complex but we believe that by working with industry leaders like Tata Steel, together, we will find solutions more quickly to help reduce carbon emissions in steel production," she said. 

Rajiv Mukerji, Vice President, Group Strategic Procurement, Tata Steel, said the steel sector will play a critical role in achieving India’s net-zero commitment.

"Tata Steel is already working on several pilot projects focussed on the development of deep decarbonisation technologies such as CCU, hydrogen-based steelmaking, use of biomass and other alternate steelmaking routes," he said.

"We believe strategic collaborations are vital in paving the way for innovations to accelerate the deployment of breakthrough technologies at scale and therefore this partnership with BHP is an important step for us.”

Tata Steel and BHP have been heavily involved in establishing partnerships with like-minded industry leaders in reducing emissions in steelmaking. BHP has in recent years partnered with global majors POSCOChina BaowuJFE Steel and HBIS Group to explore greenhouse gas emissions reduction from steelmaking.

The combined output of the five steel companies (based in China, India, Japan and South Korea) equates to around 13% of reported global steel production.

In Q1 FY23, Tata Steel India crude steel production stood at 4.92mn tons, a growth of 6% year-on-year. Deliveries of 4.06mn tons were lower by 2% due to moderation in exports following the imposition of 15% export duty. 

The news follows Anglo American and Nippon Steel Corporation signing an MoU to work together to accelerate the transition to lower carbon steelmaking (click here).

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