Analysis and Commentary

Now Port Pirie plans to be a green iron production hub

Analysis and Commentary

Not content with Whyalla’s emergence as a green steel production hub, a second South Australian city – Port Pirie – has joined the race to become a green metals hub based on the state’s huge reserves of magnetite ore.

While haematite from the Pilbara has been the source of most of Australia’s iron ore exports, GFG Alliance’s Liberty steel has already produced green iron pellets from Whyalla magnetite and stopped using coke in the steel production process – now Port Pirie plans to follow suit.

Magnetite Mines (MGT) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Port Pirie Regional Council to match local haematite ores and planned green hydrogen production to produce green iron.

In the region Port Pirie is the site of the metals refinery operated by Nyrstar which was once the largest lead smelter in the world, while Whyalla is a developing hydrogen hub and Port Augusta is the site of Vast Solar’s solar methanol project.

Magnetite Mines is developing two billion tonnes of probable magnetite ore reserves in the Braemar iron region of South Australia located 240km north of Adelaide.

The company said that with the imminent release of a South Australian government’s Green Iron & Steel Strategy, the MoU established a framework for the council and MGT to collaborate and position Port Pirie for future mineral “value adding” opportunities.

The MoU provides the framework for Council and MGT to:

  • Engage state and federal government on the development potential for green iron production in Port Pirie
  • Undertake preliminary planning for future green iron production including community and First Nations engagement
  • And assess other partnerships and alliances that support a future green iron industry in Port Pirie, including with international steel producers and hydrogen suppliers.

In addition to green iron production, the MoU also provides a framework for cooperation on the development of supporting infrastructure for the Razorback Iron Ore Project, including potential water supply and port.

MGT Chief Executive Officer Tim Dobson said: “We see a once-in-a-generation, economy-changing opportunity for South Australia to take a leading role in global steel sector decarbonisation thanks to its expansive magnetite resources, green hydrogen and renewable energy.

“All major international steelmakers are committed to reducing their carbon footprints, and need green iron to achieve that.

“It is clear to me that Port Pirie is a robust and logical location for South Australia’s second iron hub – processing and exporting Braemer iron ores for decades into the future.”

Further reading:
Whyalla says goodbye to coal as steelmaking goes green(er)
Vast Solar’s concentrated solar go ahead follows solar methanol plant

Picture: Nyrstar/Port Pirie metals smelter

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