Mining and mineral group LKAB to switch to carbon-free sponge iron production

November 24, 2020

LKAB to switch from the production of iron ore pellets to carbon-free sponge iron (Courtesy LKAB)

The UK’s Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) reports that the Swedish-based mining and mineral group LKAB will switch from the production of iron ore pellets to carbon-free sponge iron using hydrogen-based technology. LKAB estimates that the move will cut annual carbon dioxide emissions by 35 mln t.

Under the Swedish government’s fossil-free Sweden initiative, twenty-two industrial sectors have developed roadmaps that show how they can become fossil-free or climate-neutral while boosting their competitiveness. Such work includes the HYBRIT development project, involving SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, which aims to enable the reduction of steel from iron ore using hydrogen instead of carbon.

This new work is said to represent the biggest Swedish industrial investment ever with annual investments of SEK 10 to 20 billion over twenty years. However, LKAB believes that by offering carbon-free products, it can more than double its annual sales up until 2045, and have the ability to supply the world market with the essential carbon-free iron when the global economy transitions.

The company’s entire production will reportedly shift from iron ore pellets to a hydrogen-based process similar to that currently under development with HYBRIT. LKAB is collaborating with companies such as SSAB, Vattenfall, Sandvik, ABB, Combitech, Epiroc and others to develop the technology that will enable the transition to fossil-free, autonomous mines.

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