The Chief Executive Australian Steel Products, BlueScope Steel Tania Archibald (pictured) has confirmed BlueScope will invest $1.15 billion to reline and upgrade its idled No. 6 Blast Furnace at Port Kembla.
However at a media conference with Climate Change and Energy minister Chris Bowen, Archibald said the company remained committed to achieving net zero by 2050.
She said: “But we can’t lose our sovereign steel-making capability in the process.
“The No. 6 project preserves Australia’s sovereign iron and steel-making capability and it provides the critical time necessary for the development of the essential enablers required to support lower emissions iron and steel-making here in Australia.
“Put simply, the realign project is an essential bridge to enable BlueScope’s transition to net zero by 2050.”
Earlier this week the federal government announced $200 million in grant funding through the first round of the Powering the Regions Fund (PRF) to upgrade steelmaking at BlueScope’s Port Kembla and Liberty Steel’s Whyalla sites. BlueScope is to receive $136.8 million.
Archibald said one of the most promising technologies to achieve a step reduction in emissions and iron and steel making was direct reduced iron, or DRI, technology.
In the DRI process, natural gas and ultimately green hydrogen would replace coal in the steel-making process.
She said: “Natural gas-based DRI could reduce emissions in iron and steel making by around 60 per cent, while green hydrogen-based DRI could cut emissions by approximately 85 per cent.
“However, given the current state of technology, the multi-year lead time to realign the blast furnace and the absence of key enablers for DRI, such as abundant low-cost natural gas or green hydrogen, BlueScope has made the decision in 2023 that the most prudent way to proceed is to realign No. 6 blast furnace whilst we continue our DRI work.”
Archibald said the investment secured the immediate future for iron and steel making in the Illawarra, which made critical inputs for renewables such as steel plate for wind towers and hot roll products for solar structures and electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure.
“The decarbonisation of Australia’s electricity generation sector is a significant opportunity for the steel sector.
“A single gigawatt of a solar farm generation requires around 40,000 tonnes of steel. A gigawatt of wind generation requires 80 to 150,000 tonnes of steel, depending on the size and location.
“And given the government’s commitment to achieving 82 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and net zero by 2050, steel is now an indispensable cornerstone of building a low-emissions future.”
Picture: Tania Archibald