Australian mining, metals and petroleum company BHP has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with India’s Tata Steel, one of the world’s largest steelmakers, to jointly study and explore low carbon iron and steel-making technology.

The partnership will ensure BHP and Tata Steel will collaborate on ways to reduce the emission intensity of the blast furnace steel route. Efforts to reduce the emission will be through the use of biomass as a source of energy and the application of carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) in steel production, Vandita Pant, BHP’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), told BusinessLine.

The partnership will try to help both companies progress toward their respective climate change goals, and support India’s ambitions to be carbon neutral. The technologies explored in the partnership can potentially reduce the emission intensity of integrated steel mills by up to 30 per cent, Pant said. 

Vandita Pant, Chief Commercial Officer, BHP

Vandita Pant, Chief Commercial Officer, BHP

Importantly these projects demonstrate how abatements applied to the blast furnace iron-making process, which contributes to more than 60 per cent of India’s steel production, can materially reduce the carbon intensity of existing capacity.

“We are committed to reducing carbon emission by 30 per cent by 2030 and becoming net zero by 2050. We are also committed to helping our partners in achieving their goals,” she said. 

BHP has similar partnerships with Baosteel Group in China, Posco in South Korea and JFE Steel in Japan. “Our partnership covers 13 per cent of the reported world steel producing capacities,” the BHP CCO said. 

On the investments that will be made for this, she said both were not going public with it. Pant said as India plans to increase its steel-making capacity by 300 million tonnes (mt) from the current 118 mt, steel blasting furnaces would benefit from the low carbon emission. Currently, the average of blast furnaces in India is 18 but it could come down once new capacities come up, she said.

Knowledge exchange

Beyond these projects, BHP and Tata Steel have committed to a robust ongoing knowledge exchange that will see both explore further collaborations, ecosystems and business opportunities in the steel value chain, and the research and innovation sectors in both India and Australia.

Pant said BHP can contribute to Tata Steel’s, and the broader steel industry’s role in helping achieve India’s ambition to be carbon neutral, particularly as India is expected to see robust steel demand growth over the next three decades, underpinned by a growing population and rising urbanisation.

A greener steel industry will be integral to India’s growth and decarbonisation journey, and “we intend to work hard with Tata Steel to enable this development and hopefully set a benchmark for others in the industry to emulate and learn from”, she said. 

By working with industry leaders like Tata Steel, BHP hopes to find solutions more quickly to help reduce carbon emissions in steel production, Pant said.