Rio Tinto, BHP, BlueScope to develop electric iron smelting pilot
From left to right: Tim Day, BHP, Tania Archibald, Bluescope, Simon Trott, Rio Tinto. Photo courtesy of BHP

Rio Tinto, BHP, BlueScope to develop electric iron smelting pilot

Rio Tinto, BHP and BlueScope announced on February 8th a partnership investigating an electric iron smelting pilot facility, advancing steel decarbonisation.

By pooling expertise on iron ore and electric smelter technology, they aim to prove molten iron production from renewable-powered direct reduced iron.

The pre feasibility study will assess Australian locations for a potential commercial-scale plant that could start up by 2027.

“Collaborations like this progress technologies to reduce steel emissions,” said BHP’s Tim Day, incoming BHP Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) Asset President. The firms believe pairing direct reduction and electric smelting can achieve more than 80% less CO2 than typical blast furnace routes.  

BlueScope CEO Tania Archibald added that electric smelting helps unlock Australia’s advantages for low-carbon steel like renewable potential and iron resources.

Rio Tinto’s Simon Trott said the urgency of steel emissions requires better collaboration on innovative solutions. A scalable, renewable-compatible technology would enable sustainable ore use.

The world’s top iron ore producers will combine with Australia’s largest steelmaker to research a breakthrough emissions solution.