Rio Tinto injects $215M in low-emission steelmaking hub in WA

Image credit: Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto announced an investment of $215 million into a research and development facility in a bid to spearhead global efforts in reducing emissions within the steel industry.

Situated in the Rockingham Strategic Industrial Area, Western Australia, this facility will serve as a crucial hub for innovation in low-carbon steel production, the government said in a media statement.

Rio Tinto’s BioIron process utilises raw biomass such as wheat straw and canola stalks to transform Pilbara iron ore into metallic iron.

The ASX-listed company said that by eschewing the need for coking coal in steelmaking, this process aims to slash carbon dioxide emissions by up to 95 per cent.

The efficacy of the BioIron process was initially validated through a small-scale plant in Germany.

However, the upcoming facility in Perth will feature a semi-industrial scale pilot plant, dwarfing its predecessor by a factor of ten.

Speaking on the transformative potential of this venture, Premier Roger Cook emphasised, “As one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, it just makes sense for WA to lead the world when it comes to low-emission steelmaking.”

He further elaborated, “Processing iron ore in WA will create jobs, reduce the world’s carbon emissions, and help to diversify and strengthen our economy for decades to come.”

Echoing this sentiment, Rio Tinto’s Chief Executive Iron Ore, Simon Trott, underscored the urgency of transitioning to low-carbon steel.

“The world needs low-carbon steel to reach net zero, and we are working to make this a reality,” he asserted.

“BioIron is a world-first technology that has the potential to play a significant role in a low-carbon steel future,” Trott stated.

The establishment of the BioIron facility is expected to yield tangible economic benefits for the region, generating approximately 60 construction jobs and sustaining around 30 full-time positions.

Local representatives have hailed this initiative as a boon for Rockingham’s economic landscape.

Rockingham MLA Magenta Marshall lauded the Cook Labor Government for “securing the jobs of the future” in the region, emphasising the role of cutting-edge technology in fortifying the local economy and fostering employment opportunities.