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How can we decarbonise the steel sector?

If we are to avoid dangerous climate change, we need to tackle emissions from the steel industry, writes Julien Bouyssou. In 2020, the world produced 1…

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This article was originally published by BNP Paribas Asset Managment Blog ( Investor's Corner)

If we are to avoid dangerous climate change, we need to tackle emissions from the steel industry, writes Julien Bouyssou.

In 2020, the world produced 1 864 million tonnes of steel. This, combined with an energy-intensive production process, means the steel industry is responsible for a great deal of greenhouse gas emissions, more so than for example producing chemicals or cement.

According to the International Energy Agency, steel accounts for 8% of global final energy use and 7% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Thus, it’s particularly important to address the issues in this sector if we are to reach net-zero emissions globally and avoid dangerous climate change.

Most of the steel produced today, around 52%, is used in infrastructure or building applications that have a relatively long lifetime – up to 50 years. Of the rest, most is used in medium service life applications, including in the car industry (12%) and in mechanical equipment (16%).

Need to cut carbon

One key reason to make headway in decarbonising the sector is that it will play a key role in the shift to a low-carbon energy system. So the energy transition, alongside other pressures, means demand for steel is set to increase.

According to the IEA, global demand for steel will rise by more than a third to 2050. Just fulfilling existing demand with current, polluting steel production infrastructure would exhaust the sector’s carbon budget and leave no room for this growth, reinforcing the need to take carbon out of production processes.

Steel is a key ingredient in wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles and in reinforcing concrete hydropower dams. Wind turbines rely heavily on the material in towers, foundations, casings and gears. Large offshore machines, which require more extensive foundations than those onshore, can include over 1 000 tonnes of steel.

Electric vehicles use steel for battery casings and some EV manufacturers are looking to lightweight steel options for car bodies. Electrical motors can contain up to 100 kilograms of electrical steel. As electrification will play a large role in the energy transition, steel is also needed to expand the number of electricity pylons, generators and transformers. 

Alongside this, from an investment point of view, there is the risk of stranded assets due to regulation, customer requirements and stakeholder pressure. Some studies have indicated that around 14% of steel firms’ value is at risk if they do not address their emissions footprint.

Decarbonisation through more recycling

Steel already has a good recycling rate (around 30% comes from recycled scrap metal) and using electric arc furnaces (EAFs) to make steel from scrap is significantly less carbon intensive than blast furnaces processing iron ore (0.4 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of steel compared to 1.85 tonnes of CO2 per tonne, respectively).

However, the benefits of this approach are limited as there is insufficient scrap to meet the rising demand. Furthermore, without local renewables, the carbon intensity of the process depends on the local grid electricity mix.

Making processes more efficient or less carbon intensive

Energy-intensive and coal-dependent blast furnace/basic oxygen furnace processes can be made either more efficient or replaced with a lower-carbon alternative. Fuels and reductants can be replaced with biomass, provided the sustainability of the sourcing is not compromised; carbon capture can be deployed to re-use CO2 produced during the process or store it.

In the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario, a quarter of the total CO2 directly generated by iron and steelmaking in 2050 is captured that year. As is the case with pilot projects in Europe – some of which have begun delivering initial batches – green hydrogen can be used to create direct reduced iron. This can be used as an input into EAFs. Molten oxide electrolysis is also being explored as a production method.

Reducing the need for steel

Being more efficient with steel products downstream can make a difference. Studies indicate that in Europe effective coordination could result in a reduction in material needs from 800 kg per person per year to 550-600 kg. This and wider resource efficiencies could play a substantial role in reducing emissions.

To support this, and emissions upstream, effective policy and regulation is key. In the EU, carbon pricing via the emissions trading scheme and upcoming carbon border adjustment mechanism can help make investments viable and avoid production shifting to more carbon-intensive areas – although the industry in Europe is calling for a more gradual reduction in emissions permits to enable it to stay competitive with producers elsewhere.

What does this mean for metallurgical coal?

Steel is the largest industrial consumer of coal, well ahead of cement or chemicals production. Coal is used to create both heat and coke for blast furnaces.

How will demand for coal be affected as the production alternatives outlined above become increasingly viable?

With around 85% of steel production capacity today in emerging economies, many conventional blast furnaces are still relatively young. The global fleet has an average age of 13 years – a third of a typical blast furnace lifetime. In the absence of stringent regulation in these locations, it may be some time before metallurgical coal becomes a stranded asset.

In summary, there are exciting and challenging routes to explore and opportunities for investors to support cutting carbon from an industry that will be essential to meeting the world’s emissions targets.

Also read What technologies do we need to get to net zero?


Any views expressed here are those of the author as of the date of publication, are based on available information, and are subject to change without notice. Individual portfolio management teams may hold different views and may take different investment decisions for different clients. This document does not constitute investment advice.

The value of investments and the income they generate may go down as well as up and it is possible that investors will not recover their initial outlay. Past performance is no guarantee for future returns.

Investing in emerging markets, or specialised or restricted sectors is likely to be subject to a higher-than-average volatility due to a high degree of concentration, greater uncertainty because less information is available, there is less liquidity or due to greater sensitivity to changes in market conditions (social, political and economic conditions).

Some emerging markets offer less security than the majority of international developed markets. For this reason, services for portfolio transactions, liquidation and conservation on behalf of funds invested in emerging markets may carry greater risk.

Writen by Investment Insights Centre. The post How can we decarbonise the steel sector? appeared first on Investors' Corner - The official blog of BNP Paribas Asset Management, the sustainable investor for a changing world.

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Drilling kicks off and uranium analysis planned at Benmara battery metals project

Special Report: Resolution Minerals has started drilling at its Benmara battery metals project in the Northern Territory. … Read More
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Resolution Minerals has started drilling at its Benmara battery metals project in the Northern Territory.

The 2,500m RC drilling program is focused on the highest priority targets of 4km and 2km strike length derived from a VTEM survey – and new Geoscience Australia research which identified prospective rock types previously mis-mapped.

The large-scale targets are prospective for sediment hosted battery metals including copper, silver, lead, zinc, and cobalt.

Plus, the targets are on the margin of the South Nicholson Basin and Murphy Inlier on the Fish River fault which is analogous and along strike from Aeon Metal’s (ASX:AML) polymetallic Walford Creek deposits (40 million tonnes at 2% copper equivalent).

It presents the company with strong exposure to the strengthening demand for battery metals – and a tightening market for copper.

And because the targets have no prior drilling, Resolution Minerals (ASX:RML) is confident this underpins the potential to rerate on any discovery made.

 

Fully funded to ramp up exploration

Resolution is fully funded to complete the drilling with existing cash following a recent $1.7 million placement.

“We are very excited to announce drilling has started on our maiden drill program at the under-explored Benmara Battery Metals Project in the Northern Territory,” managing director Duncan Chessell said.

“The program follows up large scale targets derived from our recent VTEM geophysics survey for sediment hosted stratiform copper and other battery metals.

“With virtually no prior drilling conducted into these large-scale targets, we look forward to the results of this exciting opportunity and accelerating exploration.”

The drilling will take three weeks to complete, with assays expected in early November.

Pic: The company holds the Wollogorang and Benmara copper-cobalt-uranium projects in the NT, which includes the Stanton cobalt deposit.

Assessing uranium upside off the back of strong prices

The area surrounding Benmara is also highly prospective for uranium, with the 51.9-million-pound Westmoreland Uranium deposit nearby.

Additional uranium occurrences have also been mapped within 2km of the Benmara tenement boundaries.

And with rising uranium spot prices close to US$50/lb – a nine-year high – it puts the company in a good position to assess the uranium potential of the project.

 

Wollogorang project potential

Then there’s the company’s Wollogorang project in the McArthur Basin in the NT, which is prospective for sedimentary hosted battery metals: copper, cobalt, and hard rock uranium.

There’s proven mineralisation within the Stanton cobalt deposit of 942,000 tonnes at 0.13% cobalt, 0.06% nickel, 0.12% copper.

And a VTEM survey highlighted the sediment hosted copper potential, identifying 40 conductors.

Plus, drill targets at the Gregjo copper prospect are set to test a chargeable IP geophysical anomaly underlying copper mineralisation intersected in shallow RAB drilling of up to 4% copper.

The project is subject to a $5 million farm-in agreement with OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) to earn 51% interest, after which the company can retain 49% by participating.

Or at Resolution’s election, OZ has the option to earn 75% interest by sole funding to a final positive decision to mine, with Resolution appointed as operator.

 

 

Resolution Minerals share price today:


This article was developed in collaboration with Fresh Equities, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.

 

The post Drilling kicks off and uranium analysis planned at Benmara battery metals project appeared first on Stockhead.

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Bryah nabs strategic exploration ground around namesake project

Special Report: Bryah Resources has expanded its footprint in WA, securing three exploration licences covering 50 km2 around its existing … Read More
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Bryah Resources has expanded its footprint in WA, securing three exploration licences covering 50 km2 around its existing land holding in the Bryah and Padbury Basins.

The Bryah Basin hosts the high-grade copper-gold mines at DeGrussa, discovered by Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR) in 2009, and at Horseshoe Lights, which was mined until 1994.

It also hosts several historical and current manganese mines including the company’s Horseshoe South mine.

Bryah Resources’ (ASX:BYH) is confident that the new tenements – E52/3848, E52/3898 and E52/3963 – cover prospective and under-explored areas which have gold, copper-gold and manganese exploration potential.

The tenements were acquired for 4 million ordinary shares at an issue price of $0.055/share.

Tenure right next to historic gold mine

The largest tenement (E52/3898) covers exploration ground adjacent to the historic Wilthorpe shallow open cut gold mine.

The mine straddles the boundary of new tenement E52/3898 and an adjacent E52/2059, held by Westgold Resources (ASX:WGX).

It was mined by Dominion Mining from 1993-94, producing 4,650 ounces of gold from 72,817 tonnes of ore grading 2.0 g/t gold.

And there has been limited gold exploration since.

Based on the reported mineral occurrences, Bryah considers the tenement package highly prospective for copper, gold, and manganese.

Pic: Tenement location plan

Exploration planning underway

The company will shortly commence a thorough desktop review of all historical exploration reports as well as its own extensive database.

The data review will support a detailed phase of exploration planning, ahead of ground exploration activities.

In the meantime, reverse circulation drilling is underway at Bryah’s manganese JV, in a 2000m program fully funded by partner OM Holdings.

 


 

 

This article was developed in collaboration with Bryah Resources, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.

 

The post Bryah nabs strategic exploration ground around namesake project appeared first on Stockhead.

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Mining battery metals from the sea floor – could it soon be a low-impact reality?

Low-impact sea mining could become a reality for one ambitious company with the arrival of a 228m ship in Rotterdam … Read More
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Low-impact sea floor mining could finally become a reality for one ambitious company with the arrival of a 228-metre ship in Rotterdam earlier this week, heralding a critical milestone in its plans to become a producer of battery metals sourced from the deep ocean.

Named the Hidden Gem, the vessel is the key to The Metal Company’s (NASDAQ:TMC) vision of developing the world’s largest source of battery metals from the ocean floor with commercial production plans targeted for 2024.

TMC’s strategic partner, Allseas, will be converting a former deep-sea drilling vessel into a subsea mining vessel, retrofitting the ship with equipment to gather polymetallic nodules on the seafloor within contract areas held by TMC in the Pacific Ocean’s Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ).

The Hidden Gem. Pic: Business Wire

These potato-sized polymetallic nodules contain high grades of critical minerals such as nickel, manganese, copper and cobalt, which are integral to the manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries and other renewable energy technologies.
 

Enough to power 250 million EVs

Back in April 2020, TMC acquired its third seabed contract area to explore for polymetallic nodules from Tonga Offshore Mining Limited (TOML), which opened it up to a further 74,713km square block of exploration rights.

The third contract area comprises an inferred resource of 756 wet tonnes of polymetallic nodules, meaning its expanded footprint now contains enough nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese to build more than 250 million electric vehicle batteries.

Speaking to the TOML acquisition, TMC’s chairman and CEO Gerard Barron said the project will enable The Metal Company to bring more critical minerals to market to break through the bottleneck and shift away from fossil fuels.

“Our research shows that ocean polymetallic nodules can provide society with these metals at a fraction of the environmental and social impacts associated with land-based extraction.”

Pic: Supplied

 

Environmental concerns about sea floor mining

The environmental concerns which surround mining of the ocean’s floors are well documented, with several jurisdictions and regulatory bodies imposing bans and strict regulations on subsea mining due to the lack of understanding around the environmental impacts and growing fears about the irreversible effects these practices may have on the fragile ecosystems that we know very little about.

Many scientists believe that far more resources have been spent researching ways to mine the ocean floor rather than studying the impact this type of mining might have on the underwater environment.

TMC, however, believes that the Hidden Gem subsea vessel, which will deploy a 4.5km riser to collect the nodules off the seafloor without drilling, blasting or digging, can avoid much of the environmental disturbance associated with traditional sea floor mining methods.
 

Past failures

Planning to mine the oceanic crust’s wealth of mineral resources is a well-trodden path that’s seen many companies fail to deliver on their promises of production due to regulatory and financial hurdles.

Companies such as Nautilius and its high-grade Solwara 1 copper-gold project off the PNG coast is one recent example.

Nautilius had plans to turn its Solwara 1 project into the world’s first underwater copper-gold mining operation but wound up delisting from the TSX and going bankrupt in 2019.

The Canadian company had developed three undersea robots to mine hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor before funding issues became a problem midway through construction.
 

On the road to meeting deep-sea battery metals goal

There are examples of successful mining ventures in the ocean such as in Indonesia’s tin industry, diamond extraction in Namibia, and gold mining off Alaska’s coast, however these ventures are often heavily scrutinised by environmental lobby groups and constantly face the risk of being shut down due to increasing global environmental awareness and a trend towards greener policies from the governments who licence them.

While there is still plenty of obstacles and work to be done, TMC, with the help of Allseas and their new vessel, which is expected to be the first ship classified as a sub-sea mining vessel under American Bureau of Shipping, are much closer than many of their peers to realising the goal of supplying the market with battery metals from the seafloor.

The post Mining battery metals from the sea floor – could it soon be a low-impact reality? appeared first on Stockhead.

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