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BHP hoping to harness the wind

Thursday, August 11th, 2022

Diversified miner BHP has announced a partnership to undertake a technical assessment of wind-assisted propulsion to lower its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The miner has partnered with Pan Pacific Copper (PPC), a member of JX Nippon Mining & Metals group, and auxiliary wind propulsion systems provider Norsepower, to reduce GHG emissions from maritime transportation between BHP’s mines in Chile and PPC’s smelters in Japan.

The parties are conducting a technical assessment and plan a retrofit installation of a wind-assisted propulsion system onboard the M/V Koryu, a combination carrier operated by Nippon Marine, a member of SENKO group.

BHP and PPC have multi-year agreements for delivery of copper concentrates from Chile to Japan as well as sulphuric acid from Japan to Chile, making the cargo capacity use of M/V Koryu one of the highest in the industry.

Norsepower’s rotor sails installation, a “push-button wind propulsion” system and estimated to be around ten times more efficient than a conventional sail that requires no reefing or crew attention when in operation, is scheduled for completion by the third quarter of 2023, which is expected to make M/V Koryu the cleanest vessel in its category when measured for GHG emissions intensity. 

Norsepower’s rotor sails are modernized versions of Flettner rotors, and the technology is based on the Magnus effect that harnesses wind to maximize ship fuel efficiency. When wind conditions are favourable, rotor sails allow the main engines to be throttled back, saving fuel and reducing emissions, while also reducing power needed to maintain speed and voyage time.

“Identifying and implementing innovative and sustainable solutions through our strong commodity and supply chain partnerships remain essential in supporting BHP’s decarbonisation ambitions,” BHP chief commercial officer Vandita Pant said.

“We look forward to working with PPC on the wind-assisted propulsion system to enable further GHG emissions reduction in our supply chain and add to the already strong partnership between BHP and PPC.”

JX Nippon Mining & Metals deputy CEO/ PPC president Kazuhiro Hori said PPC and BHP have been sharing the mission to accelerate the activities for decarbonisation in line with their respective climate targets and goals.

“The Koryu project is a good example of our collaboration and valuable step that proves eagerness by both companies to establish ecosystem partnerships to take on the climate challenge. We are looking forward to further developing the partnership with BHP in various areas.”

This latest partnership with PPC and Norsepower follows BHP’s collaboration agreements in the maritime decarbonisation segment that includes the first marine biofuel trial involving an ocean-going vessel bunkered in Singapore, taking delivery of the first five liquefied natural gas-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carriers, and joining a consortium to assess the development of an iron-ore Green Corridor between Australia and East Asia.

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