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ArcelorMittal to invest Eur1.7 billion to decarbonize French mills

Friday, 04 February 2022

Steelmaker ArcelorMittal will be investing Eur1.7 billion ($1.9 billion) in decarbonization efforts at its Fos-sur-Mer and Dunkirk sites in France, which will receive support from the French government, the steelmaker said in a statement Feb. 4.

The investment will enable ArcelorMittal to transform its steelmaking in France and reduce the emissions of the operations by close to 40%, or 7.8 million mt/year, by 2030, it said.

As Dunkirk is Europe’s largest steel producing site, the steelmaker added that the transformation would also represent a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing industry in France and put the country’s steelmaking industry on track to meet the Paris Agreement.

France was the 17th largest steel producer globally in 2021, producing 13.9 million mt of crude steel, up 20.3% year on year, according to the World Steel Association.

At Dunkirk, the investment will be used to build a 2.5 million mt hydrogen-fueled direct reduction of iron, or DRI, unit to transform iron ore using hydrogen instead of coal.

It will also install an innovative technology electric furnace and an electric arc furnace at Dunkirk, while also investing to increase the proportion of scrap steel used.

The investment will be used to build an EAF in Fos-sur-Mer to complement the ladle furnace announced in March 2021 to increase production of low carbon steel.

“Together these investments will turn Fos-sur-Mer into a reference site for the production of low carbon, circular steel, made from recycled steel,” Arcelor Mittal said.

Arcelor expects the new industrial facilities to become operational in 2027 and will gradually replace three out of its five blast furnaces in France by 2030.

This will leave each operation with one BF, down from three at Dunkirk with a combined capacity of 7 million mt/year and two at Fos-sur-Mer with a combined design capacity of 4 million mt/year.

Partnership with government subject to EU approval

The investment and related government support were announced at a site visit to the Dunkirk operations attended by a number of ArcelorMittal executives and government officials, including French Prime Minister Jean Castex.

The partnership between ArcelorMittal and the French government is subject to European Union approval, which is expected by the second quarter of 2022, as well as the availability of economically viable energy infrastructure and supply, the company said.

“ArcelorMittal is committed to decarbonizing its plants in Europe to serve our industrial customers – automotive, packaging, construction, transport but also solar and wind energy and future networks for hydrogen and CO2 capture,” ArcelorMittal Europe-Flat Products CEO Yves Koeberle said in the statement.

“We are grateful for this support from the French State, which will enable the major transformation of our sites in Fos-sur-Mer and Dunkirk, which together account for over one-third of ArcelorMittal’s flat steel production in Europe,” he added.

The company’s French operations were also already looking at further decarbonization at the operation after 2030, with the aim for the sites to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

The second step will include using technologies implemented during the first step, along with carbon capture and storage or utilization technologies, assuming the technology sufficiently matures and regulation ensures it economic viability, ArcelorMittal said.

ArcelorMittal aims to achieve a 35% reduction in CO2 emissions in Europe and a 25% reduction globally by 2030.

Besides Dunkirk, ArcelorMittal is also planning new DRI plants with EAFs in Bremen and Eisenhuttenstadt in Germany, as well as in Spain.

-- Jacqueline Holman

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