Vale joins Kobe and Mitsui to produce green metallics

Vale SA, the world’s largest iron ore producer, has announced that it reached a non-binding heads of agreement to establish a new venture (NewVen) to supply low GHG (greenhouse gases) metallics and steel making solutions to the steel industry with Kobe Steel, Ltd and Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Vale, alongside Kobe Steel (Midrex) and Mitsui & Co., will utilize the collective strengths of their products, people, and technologies to drive this initiative and meet the challenge.

NewVen, with the objective of delivering low CO2 metallics to the global market, will provide new technological solutions to venture’s clients. An evaluation period has already begun to deepen the cooperation and to gauge market demand for several existing and new steel making solutions prior to a final agreement for the creation of the NewVen.

The steel industry, especially traditional ironmaking, is among the largest contributors of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – in the range of 7-9% of total emissions – because of its significant reliance on coal.  The mitigation of CO2 emissions is becoming critical worldwide. 

The declared 2030 targets for scope 1 and 2 emissions demonstrate Vale’s commitment with the Paris Agreement, in line with its strategic pillar – New Pact with Society – and the goal of improving Vale’s value to society.

Steel production, part of Vale’s scope 3, while essential for people’s daily lives, generates considerable CO2 emissions. Vale is committed to contribute with its steelmaking clients in this challenge of reducing carbon footprint.

The NewVen will use existing and new low-CO2 iron making technology such as Tecnored Technology and Midrex Process.

Tecnored is a 100% Vale subsidiary focused on developing a low carbon pig iron process through the use of energy sources, such as biomass, syn-gas and hydrogen that emit less CO2 than the coal and coke the tradition iron-making processes use. Using biomass, the path to economic carbon neutrality may be achieved in the medium term.

Vale, Kobe Steel and Mitsui & Co. are global companies with a wide experience in Metals & Mining industry. Vale will contribute with its expertise in Tecnored technology, its iron ore portfolio and logistics capability.

Kobe Steel will contribute with its expertise in steel production, engineering of steel plants, MIDREX Process and other technologies, Mitsui & Co. will contribute with its expertise in the commercialization of metals and scrap processing technologies and with its investment capabilities.

MIDREX to use green hydrogen in near future

Midrex Technologies, Inc. a 100% Kobe Steel subsidiary, is the world leading direct reduction ironmaking (DRI) technology. Each year, MIDREX Plants produce more than 60% of the entire world’s DRI and more than 80% of the DRI produced by all shaft furnace technologies.

Since it uses both natural gas and hydrogen as a reductant in the process, its CO2 emission level is much less compared to a blast furnace.

The MIDREX plant is extremely flexible and can accommodate the initial transitions from a carbon to a hydrogen economy.

This initiative fits with the vision and mission of both Kobe Steel and Midrex.  Kobe has a history of various product initiatives to support the pathway to GHG reduction.  For example, their high tensile strength steel sheets for automotive weight reduction is directly linked to lower CO2 emissions and improved fuel economy.  For Midrex, the market leader in direct reduction ironmaking (DRI) technology, the CO2 emissions level of the MIDREX Process using both natural gas and hydrogen is dramatically lower than the blast furnace route, which is why it will play an important role in this new initiative.  The success of MIDREX Technology is based on a simple and efficient process, years of continuous innovations and improvements, and the excellence of plant operators. 

We are excited to provide MIDREX Technology using both natural gas and hydrogen to help steelmakers mitigate CO2 emissions and transition from aging blast furnace technology,” commented Stephen C. Montague, President & CEO of Midrex Technologies, Inc.

While the natural gas-based MIDREX process, paired with an EAF has the lowest CO2 emission of any steelmaking route using iron ore, there is room to further decrease emissions by using hydrogen as a fuel and chemical reactant in the process.

The best possibility for now and the near future is to use green hydrogen to produce DRI as feedstock for steelmaking. This is known as MIDREX H2.

Today, hydrogen is not currently available at sufficient scale and low enough cost for rapid adoption.  But the proven MIDREX Process is available to help transition to the Hydrogen Economy.

The MIDREX Process fits the need of steelmakers seeking a dependable and clean source of iron.  Each year, MIDREX Plants produce more than 60% of the world’s DRI in its three forms: cold DRI (CDRI), hot DRI (HDRI), and hot briquetted iron (HBI).

The company’s headquarters and research and technology development center are located in Charlotte, NC, USA. Midrex Technologies also has offices in the United Kingdom, China, India, and Dubai.

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