Ebene Magazine – US rock legend inspires the Fortescue founder’s green steel revolution

Ebene Magazine - US rock legend inspires the Fortescue founder's green steel revolution

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[SYDNEY] Andrew Forrest, billionaire of the Fortescue Metals Group iron ore empire, « dreams of a renaissance in Australian green-powered steelmaking ».

Citing the late Tom Petty’s rock song, Mr. Will In a televised address on Saturday Forrest outlined his vision of harnessing the country’s potential green energy and hydrogen resources and its vast iron ore reserves to make Australia a world leader in zero-emissions steelmaking.

It’s a big question for one Magnate whose company generates more than two million tons of greenhouse gases every year. According to BloombergNEF analysis, « green » steel production is unlikely to be competitive with traditional coal-burning methods well before 2030.

At the same time, Australia’s steel making heartland has been decimated by plant closings and cuts in recent decades – a stark reminder of that enormous challenge faced by potential rivals to power China, which accounts for well over half of the world’s crude steel production.

« We want to start building the first green steel pilot plant in Australia this year, with a commercial facility in the Pilbara, which will run entirely on wind and sun for the next few years, « Forrest said. « We also want to develop green iron ore trains that run on either renewable electricity or green ammonia. » Hybrit, a joint venture in Sweden between steel manufacturer SSAB, iron ore supplier LKAB and energy supplier Vattenfall, started testing last year to remove fossil fuels from steel production.

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The BHP Group sees a much longer-term perspective in a major disruption to steelmaking with hydrogen and clean energy. It could take 10 to 15 years for lower costs to make the idea viable, CEO Mike Henry said in an interview in September.

Mr. Forrest says he is ready for the challenge and believes Fortescue will if he does right, could become a climate change innovator alongside Tesla. His company is testing two methods of making steel without coal – one with green hydrogen and one with renewable energy.

« If Australia captured just 10 percent of the world’s steel market, we could create well over 40,000 jobs – more than necessary, to replace any job in the coal industry, « he said. It’s an ambitious target as global production was 1.9 billion tons in 2019 while Australia produced 5.5 million tons according to the World Steel Association.

Mr Forrest’s ambitions for clean energy go beyond steel. Fortescue, which began exporting iron ore in 2008 and is now number 4 in the world, announced last year that it would invest around A $ 1 billion (S $ 1.03 billion) in decarbonization and hydrogen supply projects through 2023.

Fortescue has a project pipeline that could result in around 300 gigawatts of clean power generation – more than four times the total energy capacity of Australia, Forrest said. In the long term, he sees the potential to scale this to 1,000 gigawatts.

« As someone who made a career by doing what other people said it was impossible, it doesn’t feel any different, » said he. Fortescue shares fell 2.2 percent on Friday in Sydney.

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Ref: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg



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