Steelmaking
© Oleg Federenko - dreamstime.com

ArcelorMittal to develop zero carbon-emissions steel plant in Spain

The company plans to invest in the construction of a direct reduced iron plant and a new hybrid electric arc furnace at a plant in Spain.

ArcelorMittal, a steel and mining company based in Luxembourg, has announced that it plans to turn its Sestao plant in Spain into a full-scale, zero carbon-emissions steel plant. The company says it signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Spain to invest 1 billion euros (about $1.2 billion) in the construction of a green hydrogen direct reduced iron (DRI) plant at its plant in Gijón, Spain, as well as a new hybrid electric arc furnace (EAF).

The Sestao plant manufactures a range of flat steel products for the automotive, construction sectors and general industry. According to a news release from ArcelorMittal, the Sestao plant will produce 1.6 million metric tons of zero carbon-emissions steel per year by 2025. The company says it aims to do this by:

  • changing the metallic input by increasing the proportion of circular, recycled scrap and using green hydrogen-produced DRI from Gijón in its two existing EAFs;
  • powering all steelmaking assets (EAFs, rolling mill and finishing lines) with renewable energy; and
  • introducing several emerging technologies that will replace the small, remaining use of fossil fuel in the steelmaking process with carbon-neutral energy inputs, such as sustainable biomass or green hydrogen.

The company is constructing a 2.3-million-metric-ton green hydrogen DRI unit in Gijón. Around 1 million metric tons of DRI will be transported to Sestao to be used as a feedstock for its two EAFs.

According to ArcelorMittal, Spain’s national government as well as the Basque government are in support of this project from a funding perspective, given the cost associated with the transition to carbon-neutral steelmaking. The national and regional governments have also expressed support because this will enable ArcelorMittal to have access to green hydrogen supplied through a consortium of companies that will cooperate in the construction of the infrastructure required to produce hydrogen in the Iberian Peninsula using solar-powered electrolysis and to transport it directly through a network of pipelines. The company says this initiative involves the construction of multiple large-scale solar farms, with hydrogen produce in situ and with the corresponding impact in terms of employment.

ArcelorMittal reports that it is also investing 50 million euros (about $59 million) in its Sestao plant to fund the introduction of emerging technologies required to bring the plant to zero carbon emissions, supporting the plant’s 1.6 million metric tons of production per year.

“It is widely understood that for the world to achieve net-zero by 2050, faster progress over the next decade is essential,” says Aditya Mittal, CEO of ArcelorMittal. “Having announced a net-zero target for 2050, we therefore set ourselves the challenge to identify how we could take an existing steel plant to zero carbon emissions within the next five years. … This is a hugely significant development and demonstrates the strength of innovation embedded in our people, our unparalleled technology leadership and what can be achieved through investment in existing steelmaking infrastructure. It means ArcelorMittal will be the first company in the world to be in a position to offer its customers meaningful volumes of zero carbon-emissions steel.”

Mittal adds that the company is planning to switch the Sestao plant to renewable electricity. He says, “This, together with the green DRI and hydrogen feeding the burners, will result in the Sestao plant achieving zero carbon emissions. As a large emitter, the steel industry can make a vital contribution to achieving net zero by 2050.”