BlueScope moves slowly to decarbonise Port Kembla

BlueScope has renewed its commitment to decarbonise its primary steelmaking facilities at Port Kembla in New South Wales, but cautioned that a transition was an enormous challenge for the company.

Chairman John Bevan told the company’s annual general meeting that the Port Kembla blast furnaces were a major manufacturing precinct of strategic importance to the region and Australia’s sovereign steelmaking capability.

Bevan said: “The Port Kembla steelworks has been part of this local community’s rich history for almost 100 years.

“And I believe it will be deeply engrained for another 100 years as we invest in modern manufacturing initiatives such as robotics, automation and other digital technologies to deliver the next wave of growth and productivity improvements.”

Bevan said the company continued to make strides to reposition Port Kembla for a low carbon world.

“Achieving net zero carbon steelmaking is an enormous challenge for the steel supply chain given the technical issues involved.

“Unlike many industrial processes where the end product can be produced using a different fuel or method, carbon is entrenched in primary iron and steelmaking as a reductant.

“As we stand here today, there is no technically and commercially viable solution to produce virgin iron and steel without carbon in the time frame required.”

However the company was advancing its study of a pilot hydrogen-based direct reduced iron melter and a hydrogen electrolyser.

In the near term the company has 100 engineers working on plans to reline and upgrade the mothballed Blast Furnace No 6 as a successor to No 5 which is reaching the end of its campaign life in the middle of this decade.

Bevan said: “The reline and upgrade will include a range of improved environmental controls, along with technology options that will enable greenhouse gas reductions over the medium to longer term.

“Importantly, the reline provides a bridge to our adoption of breakthrough lower emission steelmaking, once technically and commercially viable.”

Picture: BlueScope

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