ArcelorMittal and BHP Group will test a full-scale carbon capture operation in Belgium, in the latest sign of major steelmakers and miners working together to curb emissions.
Steelmaking is one of the most polluting industries, approaching a 10th of all greenhouse gas emissions. That’s put it in the firing line of investors and environmentalists who want to see credible plans for producers to reduce their environmental impact.
Cutting emissions is existential for the steel industry, but it’s also a huge concern for some of the top miners who make much of their profits from iron ore, the key steelmaking ingredient. Scope 3 emissions — created when customers such as Chinese steel mills use commodities dug up by miners like BHP — are a big issue for miners as they seek to reassure investors that they can become greener.
That has seen a wave of collaborations between top iron ore miners and many of the largest steelmakers on how to cut pollution. Measures include hydrogen-based direct reduction, using higher grade iron ore and either offsetting or capturing the carbon emitted.
Under the latest partnership, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. will install a carbon capture, utilization and storage facility at ArcelorMittal’s Ghent steelworks in Belgium. It will be one of the first full-scale operations at a primary steelmaking site. BHP are funding the operation.
BHP has already stuck deals with Tata Steel Ltd. in India and South Korea’s Posco, as well as agreements with major producers in Japan and China.
While there’s no single pathway to net-zero steel, the latest agreement will help show whether carbon capture and storage technology — which has been dogged by challenges such as high costs — is scalable, BHP Chief Commercial Officer Vandita Pant said.
Critics have also said that the fossil-fuel industry’s backing of the technology diverts resources away from the hard job of reducing emissions.