Major Metals Producer Pivots To Renewables

Australia-based iron ore giant Fortescue Metals Group Ltd plans to start producing renewable energy from wind, solar, hydrogen, and ammonia in 2022 or 2023, with an ultimate goal to have as much as 236 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy capacity, founder and chairman Andrew Forrest told Bloomberg in an interview on Monday.

Fortescue Metals Group, set up in 2003, currently exports 175 million tons to 180 million tons of iron ore annually, and, according to Bloomberg, the firm is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of iron ore.

Fortescue Metals Group plans to invest some US$733 million (AUS$1 billion) in efforts to decarbonize production as well as in hydrogen projects through 2023, Forrest told Bloomberg, without giving a timeframe for the target of 236 GW renewable capacity, which is equal to one-fifth of the total generation capacity in the United States.

Initially, Fortescue will focus on powering its iron ore operations in Australia with renewable energy.

Fortescue has a target to achieve net-zero operational emissions by 2040, much like many oil companies, although Europe’s Big Oil is targeting 2050 as the net-zero emissions deadline.

“The business sector is in a privileged position to take the lead in tackling the challenges associated with climate change. Mining is one of the most innovative industries in the world and we are harnessing this advantage to work towards carbon neutrality, with a sense of urgency,” Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said in August this year.

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In its FY20 Climate Change Report, Fortescue unveiled an investment of US$800 million, together with business partners, to deliver 25 to 30 percent of stationary energy requirements from solar power, and a partnership with ATCO Australia to build and operate Western Australia’s first hydrogen refueling station.

Fortescue aims to accelerate the development of renewable hydrogen technology together with Hyundai Motor and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Last week, Fortescue said it was studying the development of a green ammonia plant in Bell Bay, Tasmania, with an investment decision targeted for next year.

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