A global consortium of mining and shipping companies headed up by the Global Maritime Forum (GMF) have signed a letter of intent (LOI) to assess the development of an iron ore green corridor between Australia and East Asia.

The Global Maritime Forum is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to shaping the future of global seaborne trade to increase sustainable long-term economic development and human wellbeing.

The companies involved in the consortium are BHP, Rio Tinto, Oldendorff Carriers and Star Bulk Carriers Corporation. The idea is to mobilize demand for green shipping and to scale zero or near-zero carbon shipping by decarbonizing the maritime sector and establishing so-called ‘green corridors’ or specific shipping routes where the economics, infrastructure and logistics of net zero are feasible.

“Zero-greenhouse gas emission pathways require the creation of a parallel value chain that involves new ways of working, new contractual relationships, and drives the development of decarbonized fuel production and infrastructure. This new iron ore green corridor collaboration is an important step towards enabling zero- or near-zero greenhouse gas emission shipping from both the supply and demand side.”

Johannah Christensen, CEO at Global Maritime Forum.

The Getting to Zero Coalition report, entitled the Next Wave, confirmed that so-called ‘green corridors’ can be conceived, prioritized and designed with a pre-feasibility study for an iron ore route between Australia and East Asia. It was suggested in the report that green ammonia was the likely fuel choice for the route based on favourable production conditions, an enabling regulatory environment and willing stakeholders.

Rashpal Bhatti, vice-president of maritime and supply chain excellence at BHP, commented: “BHP's membership of this Green Corridor consortium is testament to the importance we place on targeted exploration and partnerships in identifying pathways to decarbonisation for the maritime sector.”

“As one of the largest bulk charterers in the world, we recognise this opportunity and have announced a number of partnerships across our value chain to seek to accelerate the process.”

Rashpal Bhatti, vice president of maritime and supply chain excellence at BHP.

The consortium’s partners aim to develop a framework as a preparatory step towards real-world implementation of a green iron ore shipping value chain. Rio Tinto’s head of commercial operations, Laure Baratgin, described the collaboration as an important step towards accelerating the delivery of the company’s climate commitments on shipping. He said that Rio Tinto’s broader goal was to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and by 50% by 2030. Ultimately, he said, the goal was to provide customers and partners with sustainable value-chain solutions.

Star Bulk Carriers’ Charis Plakantonaki, the company’s chief strategy officer, said that focusing on the feasibility of decarbonizing specific trade routes was an indispensable step to create the foundation for the maritime energy transition.

“Star Bulk is committed to partnering up with other frontrunners to enable progress in this multi-dimensional, yet so critical for our future, challenge.”

Charis Plakantonaki, chief strategy officer, Star Bulk Carriers Corp.

At Oldendorff Carriers, CEO and president Peter Twiss said he was delighted to be working with ‘like-minded leaders’ to accelerate solutions for decarbonizing shipping. “We view our commitment to stewardship of the environment as an urgent obligation and participating in the establishment of a Green Corridor in one of the most significant trading routes is a big step forward,” he said.