Why we need Magnetite’s high-grade iron ore – and heaps of it – to turn the steel industry green
COP26 in Glasgow has solidified the push to eliminate anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, with the global pact to limit global warming needing “rapid, deep and sustained reductions” in our greenhouse gas output.
That poses a problem for the steel industry which, largely reliant on coking coal to fire its blast furnaces, produces somewhere in the order of 7% of those emissions.
Steel has no true substitute, meaning finding solutions to decarbonise the sector will be essential to limiting global warming to 1.5C or lower this century.
While that’s partly a technological challenge, and one many of the world’s iron ore miners have taken on, there is a potentially bigger issue at hand.
As iron ore expert and Magnetite Mines’ (ASX:MGT) Technical Director Mark Eames points out in a white paper released last week, high-grade iron ore is needed to transition to low-emissions steelmaking. And lots of it.
The biggest issue, as Eames eloquently points out in his paper, ‘Where will future iron ore supply come from?’, is that there isn’t much around.
“There is a growing consensus that low-emissions steel will require large volumes of high-grade iron ore,” Eames says.
“For example, the International Energy Agency scenarios for emissions reduction include substantial increases in Direct Reduced Iron (DRI), which requires high-grade, low-impurity iron ore feedstock.
“A wide range of industry participants have flagged the need for higher-grade iron ore inputs to assist with the transition to low-emissions steelmaking.
“So, the question is, where will all this high-grade iron ore come from? And is it available? The challenge is that over the last 20 years or so, traded iron ore grades have gone down, not up.”
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