The South Australian Government has announced that it will open an expressions of interest (EoI) process to search for partners to investigate the development of a hydrogen-based direct reduction iron (DRI) plant, in an effort to position the state as a leading green iron supplier.

The South Australian Government said that a commercial de-risking study will be a crucial first step in using the state’s natural endowment of iron ore to provide green iron to the world.   

The findings will help determine the specialised industrial precincts and supporting infrastructure required to de-risk investment in green iron and steel in South Australia.   

The State Government also said that findings will also guide its support and participation in partnerships, both with industry and the Commonwealth, to attract investment into the sector.  

The government aims to establish the DRI plant in South Australia before the end of the decade.  

DRI plants provide an alternative to using coal fired furnaces to convert iron ore to steel using renewable sources, such as hydrogen, to reduce emissions from the process by 95 per cent.   

The output of DRI – hot briquetted iron (HBI) – also has advantages in the steelmaking process such as higher iron content, lower impurities, and improved process efficiency.  

The South Australian Government said the state is well placed to take advantage of the green steel opportunity through its unrivalled access to magnetite (the type of iron ore used in DRI technology) and its leadership in establishing an advanced hydrogen industry (the type of fuel used in DRI technology).  

The announcement will form a key part of the government’s Green Iron and Steel Strategy – part of the State Prosperity Project – which is set to be released later in 2024.

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