Steel News

Rio Tinto Moves to Expand Tests of New Ironmaking Process

6/6/2024 - Rio Tinto will build a US$143 million test facility in Western Australia that will further assess the effectiveness of its BioIron low-carbon ironmaking process, the iron ore miner has announced. 

According to Rio Tinto, creation of the facility follows successful trials of the ironmaking process in a small-scale pilot plant in Germany. The Australia test facility will be 10 times larger than its predecessor, marking the first time the process will have been tested at a semi-industrial scale. It will provide the required data to assess further scaling of the technology to a larger demonstration plant, the company said. 

BioIron uses raw biomass and microwave energy instead of coal to convert Pilbara iron ore to metallic iron in the steelmaking process. When combined with the use of renewable energy and carbon-circulation by fast-growing biomass, BioIron has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by up to 95% compared with the current blast furnace method.

“The world needs low-carbon steel to reach net zero, and we are working to make this a reality by finding better ways to turn our Pilbara ores into steel,” said Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott. “BioIron is a world-first technology that has the potential to play a significant role in a low-carbon steel future.”

Fabrication of the plant equipment will begin this year, with commissioning expected in 2026.