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US steelmaker Cliffs to maximize HBI, scrap, reduce coke to cut Scope 3 emissions

Highlights

Cliffs to cut Middletown met coke production

Plans to use more scrap and HBI

Focus on all-in upstream emissions

US steel and mining group Cleveland-Cliffs is lowering all-in emissions from its steel products, by maximizing hot briquetted iron, or HBI, and ferrous scrap supplies and cutting met coke demand, Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves said Oct. 15.

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Cliffs is lowering met coke output at its Middletown, Ohio, coke batteries, reallocating workers to other operations which are expanding, Goncalves said at the S&P Global Platts Global Metals Award event in London.

The latest acquisition by Cliffs, purchasing a ferrous scrap business in the US focused on high-grade scrap supplies, builds on a strategy to produce large commercial volumes of low-emissions steel, Goncalves said.

He stressed Cliffs steel may have an all-in carbon intensity well below 2 mt per mt of steel product, with the emissions measured from rolling all the way upstream to primary production of crude steel, HBI and mining of iron ore in Minnesota and Michigan with shipping and process fuels.

"When you compare on a Scope 3 basis, there is a limited difference in emissions with EAF-based auto-grade flat steel, which uses dirty pig iron shipped-in to supplement scrap," Goncalves said in an interview.

The classification group ResponsibleSteel is proposing members such as Tata Steel and ArcelorMittal adopt a benchmarking system, which would set the carbon intensity standard at 2.5 mt of all-in emissions for crude steel based on 100% pig iron use. ResponsibleSteel's formula applied with 15% ferrous scrap to pig iron would total 2.1625 mt of emissions for crude steel, if scrap is accounted at 0 emissions.

The US has limited volume of higher purity ferrous scrap to meet an expansion in electric arc furnace, or EAF, steelmaking over the past decade, with more EAFs on the way.

US EAF steel mills focused on flat steel typically have to use pig iron and HBI from markets such as Ukraine, Russia, Brazil, as well as from the US and Trinidad & Tobago to manage raw materials qualities and optimize costs while meeting exacting steel grades.

Cliffs operates blast furnaces in the US Midwest and Lakes regions, and mines iron ore, producing pellets for captive use and external sales, including for exports.

US mills run on pellets, which are efficient compared with using sintered ore, maximizing PCI coal and natural gas injection, as well cutting solid fuels used to prepare sinter.

Cliffs is essentially using all its HBI supplies from its Toledo, Ohio plant, internally, cutting the need for met coke to produce iron at its blast furnaces, and looking into hydrogen for future development, he said.

DRI and HBI plants may be able to switch from natural gas feedstock to using a higher ratio of reformed hydrogen, or 100% hydrogen supply, according to leading equipment suppliers Midrex and Tenova.