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Diversified miner BHP has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indian steel maker Tata Steel to jointly study and explore lower carbon iron and steelmaking technology.

Under the partnership, BHP and Tata intend to collaborate on ways to reduce the emission intensity of the blast furnace steel route through two priority areas; the use of biomass as a source of energy, and the application of carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) in steel production.

The partnership aims to help both companies progress toward their respective climate change goals, and support India’s ambitions to be carbon neutral. 

The technologies explored in this partnership can potentially reduce emission intensity of integrated steel mills by up to 30%, BHP said on.

Importantly these projects demonstrate how abatements applied to the blast furnace iron-making process, which contributes to more than 60% of India’s steel production, can materially reduce the carbon intensity of existing capacity. 

BHP and Tata Steel have also committed to a robust ongoing knowledge-exchange that will see both parties explore further collaborations, ecosystems and business opportunities in the steel value chain, and the research and innovation sectors in both India and Australia.

“The partnership with Tata Steel highlights the importance of collaborations in being able to successfully identify and implement emission reduction technologies in steelmaking, including by developing abatements that can apply to the existing blast furnace process to incrementally reduce its carbon emissions intensity,” BHP’s chief commercial officer Vandita Pant said.

She also highlighted how BHP can contribute to Tata Steel’s, and the broader steel industry’s role in helping to achieve India’s ambitions to be carbon neutral, particularly as India is expected to see robust steel demand growth over the next three decades, underpinned by a growing population and rising urbanisation.

“India has invested heavily in the blast furnace route for steel production, and its crude steel output was 118-million tonnes last year. It is, therefore, critical to innovate and demonstrate pathways to reduce emissions from the blast furnace, while alternative steelmaking pathways emerge and low carbon energy systems scale-up.”

“A greener steel industry will be integral for India’s growth and decarbonisation journey, and we intend to work hard with Tata Steel to enable this development and hopefully set a benchmark for others in the industry to emulate and learn from. Finding pathways to net zero for steelmaking is challenging and complex but we believe that by working with industry leaders like Tata Steel, together, we will find solutions more quickly to help reduce carbon emissions in steel production.” she added. 

Speaking on the partnership, Tata’s VP for group strategic procurement, Rajiv Mukerji, said that the steel sector would play a critical role in achieving India’s net-zero commitment.

“Tata Steel is already working on several pilot projects focussed on the development of deep decarbonisation technologies such as carbon capture and utilisation (CCU), hydrogen-based steelmaking, use of biomass and other alternate steelmaking routes. We believe strategic collaborations are vital in paving the way for innovations to accelerate the deployment of breakthrough technologies at scale and therefore this partnership with BHP is an important step for us.”

BHP has in recent years partnered with global majors POSCO, China Baowu, JFE steel and HBIS Group to explore greenhouse gas emissions reduction from steelmaking. The combined output of the five steel companies, based in China, India, Japan and South Korea, equates to around 13% of reported global steel production.