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BHP’s in-house capital unit, BHP Ventures, has participated in Boston Metal’s $US50 million ($64 million) funding to develop a technology that converts iron ore to steel with zero carbon emissions.

Iron ore, an essential ingredient in steelmaking, makes up the highest level of scope 3 emissions at BHP; an estimated 205.6 to 322.6 million tonnes during the 2020 financial year.

This represents over 98 per cent of BHP’s emissions in the category of processing of sold products.

BHP recognised in its Scope 1, 2 and 3 Emissions Calculation Methodology 2020 report that it was technologically difficult to decarbonise steelmaking.

With the latest funding, BHP is supporting the development of Boston Metal’s molten oxide electrolysis (MOE) technology, which uses electricity to transform metals from a raw oxide form into high-purity molten metal products.

This process promises to eradicate carbon emissions from iron ore processing in steel production.

“Our investment in Boston Metal complements the initiatives and partnerships we have under way to support decarbonisation options across our value chain and help drive long-term growth and profitability for BHP and its customers,” head of BHP Ventures Mark Frayman said.

Boston Metal chief executive Tadeu Carneiro added that steel production had relied on the same basic formula for millennia, and revolutionising such an industry required a rare combination of team, technology and partners.

“With this new round of funding, Boston Metal has brought together all of these elements and is positioned to deliver a future where steel production is efficient, modular and clean,” he said.

The Massachusetts-based company plans to use the funding to validate its inert anode technology at an industrial scale and begin deploying the MOE technology with customers.