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Major miner Rio Tinto has joined forces with steelmaker China Baowu to explore ways to decarbonise the steel value chain in China and Australia.

Under a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the two companies will advance specific decarbonisation projects including:

  • Researching, building and demonstrating a pilot-scale electric melter, enabling low-carbon steel making
  • Optimising pelletisation technology for low-carbon shaft furnace-based direct reduction
  • Expanding China Baowu’s HyCROF technology, which can mitigate CO2 emissions
  • Jointly studying opportunities for the production of low-carbon iron in WA.

The MoU was signed in Shanghai by Rio Tinto chief commercial officer Alf Barrios and China Baowu vice president Hou Angui.

“Rio Tinto and China Baowu are united in a commitment to accelerating the delivery of low-carbon solutions for the entire steel value chain,” Barrios said.

“This MoU aims to address one of the biggest challenges faced by the industry – developing a low-carbon pathway for low-to-medium grade iron ores, which account for the vast majority of global iron ore supply.

“China’s commitment to curbing emissions and promoting high-quality green development is strongly aligned with our own position where climate change and the low-carbon transition are at the heart of our strategy.”

Rio chief executive of iron ore Simon Trott said the company is proud of its 40-year relationship with China Baowu.

“We look forward to progressing this study into the potential of low-carbon iron making in Western Australia as we work to ensure a positive future for Pilbara ores in a green steel world,” Trott said.

China Baowu said the company is committed to working with Rio Tinto now and into the future.

“With the mission of building an industrial ecosystem to promote the progress of human civilisation, China Baowu is committed to working with Rio Tinto to jointly study and provide low-carbon and green comprehensive solutions for the steel value chain, help the low-carbon transformation and upgrade of the steel industry chain, and support the world to address the challenge of climate change with pragmatic actions,” the company said.