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After 2050, steel will mainly be produced from iron ore due to insufficient amount of scrap

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Most steel will continue to be produced from primary raw materials, including iron ore and metallurgical coal, after 2050 due to limited reserves of ferrous scrap, according to information provided on July 28 by the Net-Zero Steel Pathway Methodology Project, or NZSPMP.

“We cannot rely on scrap to decarbonize steel production; iron ore (primary) steel production will remain critical beyond 2050 ... scrap steel production will only meet about 45% of future demand due to limited availability of scrap, ”said Javier Bonaplata, spokesman for ArcelorMittal at the webinar NZSPMP.

Why is the production of steel from scrap metal falling?

This means that the goals and budgets of the steelmaking sector for decarbonization should be split into two parts: production based on iron ore (primary steel) and production based on scrap (secondary steel), which differ significantly in terms of needs for decarbonization, Bonaplata said.

Setting different carbon intensity targets and decarbonization budgets for primary and secondary steelmaking is the first recommendation made in an NZSPMP report released this week, he said.

According to the data provided by Bonaplata, steel production from scrap accounts for 0.3 tonnes of CO2 in category 2 emissions and 0.04 tonnes of CO2 in category 1 emissions per metric tonne of steel produced, making it a “carbon neutral steel” if it is also uses clean energy sources.

Scrap steel production

This compares very favorably with iron ore-based steelmaking, which produces 1.4 to 2.2 tonnes of CO2 in emissions of 1 and 2 combined per tonne of steel produced, he said.

Currently, scrap steel production accounts for just over 30% of global steel production.