Posco and Hancock plan hydrogen fuelled HBI plant

Korean steelmaker Posco and the Hancock iron ore group are studying the feasibility of a Hot Briquetted Iron (HBI) plant in Australia fuelled by green hydrogen to provide iron for Posco’s Korean steel operations.

The company revealed the two companies had signed a heads of agreement (HOA) to study the construction of iron ore mines, hydrogen infrastructure and a low carbon HBI manufacturing plant in which carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by using hydrogen as a reducing agent. The hydrogen would be produced by renewables.

Hot Briquetted Iron is a premium form of direct reduced iron which is compact and easy to transport, a process which would add value to Australian ore before export to Asia.

Posco signed an MoU with Hancock in July last year and has conducted a preliminary feasibility study on HBI production, and plans to decide on investment after conducting a detailed review by the end of this year through this HoA.

Posco’s head of purchasing and investment Joo-tae Lee said: “This agreement is the first business Posco is promoting for the production of low carbon steel since Posco was launched as a steel company under the holding company system.

“We will take this opportunity to examine the production of low carbon steel material with Hancock, which has resource development capabilities, and lead a new steel era.”

Posco Group jointly invested with Hancock in Roy Hill mine in 2010 and has been operating it successfully.

Recently, Posco International and Hancock Energy jointly acquired Senex Energy, an Australian company that produces and develops natural gas.

The two companies plan to develop a strategic partnership to share new growth visions in the fields of low carbon material, energy and secondary battery materials including nickel and lithium.

BHP, then known as BHP-Billiton, built a hot briquetted iron plant in Port Hedland at a cost of $2.4 billion, but shut the plant in 2004 when a gas explosion killed one worker and seriously burnt two others.

The company wrote off the value of the plant, claiming low production, low prices and expensive modifications.

Picture: Posco/hot rolled steel

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