ArcelorMittal Belgium has signed a letter of intent with the Governments of Belgium and Flanders supporting a multi-million Euro project that will reduce CO2 emissions by 3.9Mt/yr by 2030.

The plan is to build a €1.1 billion 2.5Mt direct reduced iron (DRI) plant and two electric arc furnaces (EAFs) at its Ghent site. The new furnaces and DRI facility will operate alongside a state-of-the-art blast furnace that is ready to take waste wood and plastics as a substitute for fossil carbon.

Once the DRI and electric furnaces are built, there will be a transition period during which production will shift gradually from blast furnace A, to the DRI and electric furnaces, after which blast furnace A will be closed as it reaches the end of its life. By 2030, this will result in a reduction of around 3Mt of CO2 emissions each year.

According to ArcelorMittal, national and regional government support is crucial given the significant cost associated with the transition to carbon-neutral steelmaking.

ArcelorMittal Belgium has played a vital role in the European business’ decarbonisation strategy from the outset, and as a result of today’s announcement, we will continue to see it at the forefront as we move closer to net-zero steelmaking.”

Geert Van Poelvoorde, CEO, ArcelorMittal Europe.

Funding approval from the European Commission will also be required.

The DRI plant will operate alongside Ghent’s blast furnace B, which restarted production in March 2021 following a €195 million investment.

According to ArcelorMittal, the combination of the new DRI plant alongside a sustainable, state-of-the-art blast furnace enables the creation of unique synergies in ArcelorMittal Belgium’s roadmap to climate-neutral steelmaking.

“This ambitious project shows that industry is a crucial partner to achieve a climate neutral society by 2050. It will be one of the largest climate investments in Belgium that will anchor ArcelorMittal in the Ghent region, that guarantees employment and that will provide low carbon and ultimately carbon neutral steel."

Tinne Van der Straeten, Belgian Minster of Energy.

The company claims that its various initiatives will enable ArcelorMittal Belgium to reduce emissions by 3.9Mt/yr by 2030, which is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 848,172 cars being driven for a year[1]. As a result, ArcelorMittal Belgium will make a significant contribution to ArcelorMittal Europe’s ambition to reduce CO2e emissions intensity by 35% by 2030 and to become carbon neutral by 2050.

ArcelorMittal has adopted a three-prong approach to decarbonisation in its roadmap to 2050.

First, the implementation of Smart Carbon technologies will improve material and energy efficiency, including increased scrap usage. The Torero project, for example, will pre-treat waste wood from container parks to produce bio-coal suitable for the blast furnace process.

Second, reforming waste gas into useful chemical compounds through the Steelanol/Carbalyst project, which will come on stream next year and biologically convert gas from the steelmaking process into bioethanol.

Finally, replacing carbon as a reductant with hydrogen, preferably green hydrogen when it becomes commercially available.