Global population growth, increased urbanization, and a growing middle class will continue to drive long-term demand for steel and the steelmaking coal required to produce it. The below infographic from Teck outlines the mineral’s key role in the low-carbon future.
A VITAL INGREDIENT
Steel is the most commonly used metal and fulfills a variety of structural and construction needs, along with being an essential material for the production of vehicles, mechanical equipment, and domestic appliances.
Clean and renewable technologies also require steel to build wind turbines, solar panels, tidal power systems and bioenergy infrastructure.
While some kinds of steel can be made using recycled metal, roughly 72% of global steel production relies on steelmaking coal and certain higher grades of steel can only be made using the ingredient.
HOW IS STEEL MADE?
Also known as metallurgical coal or coking coal, steelmaking coal is mined to produce the carbon used in steelmaking. This is fundamentally different from thermal coal, which is used to make steam that generates electricity.
To make steel, the coal is first heated at around 1100°C to remove water and other chemicals, without the presence of oxygen. The result is a lump of near-pure carbon which is called coke.
Then, individual layers of coke, iron ore, and limestone are added to a blast furnace to make hot metal that is finally refined into steel.
The steel sector is taking action to reduce its carbon footprint. One solution that has been used in the last couple of years is Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS).
CCUS consists of capturing carbon dioxide (CO₂) during the steelmaking process, then transporting the CO₂ via ship or pipeline, and lastly reutilizing it in other industrial processes, such as producing fuels or as input into chemical production. The CO₂ can also be permanently stored deep underground in geological formations.
Supported by cleaner production, the global steel market is forecast to grow by 557 million tonnes during 2021-2025, progressing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.32%.
As demand for steel grows, so will steelmaking coal’s role in sustainable production.
Teck is one of Canada’s leading mining companies committed to responsibly producing steelmaking coal needed for a low-carbon future.