Last week, a first shipment of iron ore briquettes from Vale was shipped for testing in a blast furnace outside Brazil. The briquettes are an innovative product that can reduce CO2 emissions in steelmaking by up to 10%. Industrial testing will take place at the beginning of May at a customer's plant in Europe. 8,000 metric tons of the product were shipped from the multi-load terminal of the port of Açu in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
What is now being tested is not only the performance of the steel mill's briquettes blast furnace, but also their behavior during the 20-day transport across the ocean. Already 70,000 tons of briquettes have been industrially tested in Brazil in six different blast furnaces, with a total of 126 days in operation. In the tests conducted, the briquette was able to meet the process requirements, maintaining the blast furnace's production and operating parameters. It is expected that this will also be the case during the tests in Europe.
Reducing carbon emissions
"This is another important milestone in our journey towards low carbon solutions for the global steel industry. The industrial tests will allow us to gain the confidence of strategic partners who will be leaders in the use of briquettes in the coming years," explains Rogério Nogueira, Director of Product and Business Development at Vale.
For the Port of Açu, this is an important step in positioning the port company as a key player in the decarbonization process of the steel sector.
"This type of cargo underlines the Port of Açu's ambition to be the port of the energy transition in Brazil. The port's strategy also includes accelerating the decarbonization of the value chains of the steel and chemical industries. These sectors are crucial for reducing CO2 emissions from the so-called hard-to-degrade sectors," said José Firmo, CEO of the Port of Açu.
Replacement of traditional materials
Briquetting of iron ore fines and a technological solution with agglomerates produce briquettes that enable high mechanical strength at low temperatures. In direct reduction furnaces, the product can replace sinter, pellets and lumps in blast furnaces and pellets, reducing emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases compared to traditional processes of iron ore agglomeration (pelletization and sintering). Replacing the sintering stage allows for a potential reduction in carbon emissions of up to 10%.
Increased briquette production from Vale
The cargo shipped last week was produced at a demonstration plant in São Paulo state. Vale is building two briquetting plants with a capacity of 6 million tons per year at its Tubarão plant in Vitória, Espírito Santo state. The commissioning of the first plant is scheduled for the end of the first half of the year.
In addition, letters of intent have already been signed with more than 30 customers to study the implementation of decarbonization solutions, including the construction of briquetting plants at some customers' facilities.
Carbon neutrality and Vale
The briquetting announced by Vale in the year will help meet the company's commitment to reduce 15% of Scope 3 net emissions by 2035. In addition, Vale aims to reduce its absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 33% by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C by the end of the century.