Steel in a casting machine.

The Western Australian Government has released a new report, led by the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA), which explores the potential opportunities green steelmaking offers the state.

Western Australia’s Green Steel Opportunity explores five ways Western Australia’s iron ore can be used to reduce emissions from steelmaking, as well as considering the size and scale of the capital requirements and infrastructure needed for these pathways.

Western Australia’s access to low-cost clean energy enables higher grade iron feedstock products, such as green iron in the form of hot briquetted iron (HBI), to be a potential avenue for steelmakers to consider producing in the state.

As green hydrogen technology continues to emerge and more renewable energy infrastructure is established, the report identifies the state’s access to natural gas and renewable energy resources as key to supporting emissions reductions in steelmaking.

In the meantime, international demand for Western Australia’s direct shipping of iron ore material is expected to continue.

Western Australian Premier, Roger Cook, said Western Australia’s abundant renewable energy resources, alongside its world-leading iron ore industry, puts it front and centre in the global push towards green steel.

“Moving up the green steel value chain will diversify our economy and create more local jobs right across the state,” Mr Cook said.

“This report delivers on an important election commitment and will help to position Western Australia as an investment destination for low-emissions steel opportunities.”

Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister, Bill Johnston, said, “As demonstrated in the report, a small-scale 4.8 million tonne per annum (Mtpa) vertically integrated magnetite HBI plant in the Pilbara generates taxation benefits in the order of $31.7 billion to Australians during construction and operations through to 2050.”

Mr Johnston said it is estimated that the 4.8Mtpa plant would increase employment in the Western Australian iron ore sector by 1,700 full-time employees.

“The Cook Government now has a comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing the steel industry in its decarbonisation efforts and opportunities for the future value of iron ore in Western Australia.

“The transition option of using natural gas has the potential to reduce emissions from iron making by 65 per cent and is technically feasible today. This information can be used to support investment attraction into Western Australia,” Mr Johnston said. 

“There is increasing interest in Western Australia by the steel industry, given the access to our iron ore resources and renewable energy options. Coordinated efforts will be required to secure that investment.”

The report is available via the MRIWA website.

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