Rio Tinto has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) to take the next step in global commercialization of the HIsmelt direct smelting technology to be used in a fully integrated steel-making facility.
HIsmelt, short for high-intensity smelting, is the first commercial direct smelting process for making iron straight from the ore. The technology smelts iron ore fines directly using non-coking coals, and provides environmental benefits over traditional ironmaking as it removes the need for coke ovens and sinter plants—both of which produce the majority of non-CO2 emissions in ironmaking (including dioxins, furans and other carcinogens). HIsmelt also represents a lower cost, more efficient and flexible alternative to the conventional ironmaking technology, Rio Tinto says.
Rio Tinto brought a HIsmelt pig iron plant online in Kwinana, Western Australia in 2006. In 2009, the company placed the plant on a care and maintenance program due to depressed global pig iron prices and poor market outlook.
The MoU will also involve the relocation of the existing Kwinana HIsmelt plant from Australia to India at JSPL’s existing facility in Angul, Orissa. The relocated plant will be fully owned by JSPL, and JSPL and Rio Tinto will work together to further develop and market the technology.
The MoU was signed in New Delhi by Naveen Jindal, JSPL chairman and managing director Naveen Jindal and Rio Tinto Iron Ore and Australia chief executive Sam Walsh in the presence of Australia’s High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese.
JSPL is part of the US$15 billion Indian-based Jindal Group, currently producing three million tonnes of steel annually and 1,800 megawatts of power.
Rio Tinto is continuing its Kwinana site obligations, some of which apply to December 2012, in accordance with conditions set by the state regulators and Invest Australia.
The HIsmelt technology is fully owned by Rio Tinto. The Kwinana HIsmelt plant is owned by a Joint Venture comprising Rio Tinto (60%), Nucor Corporation (25%), Mitsubishi Corporation (10%) and Shougang Corporation (5%).
Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.