World’s first fossil-free iron plant planned for Sweden

Plans have been made for the world’s first fossil-free sponge iron plant by three Swedish firms: steel maker SSAB, mining company LKAB and state-owned energy supplier Vattenfall.

Located in Gällivare, northern Sweden, the plant will generate sponge iron, a form of "reduced" iron ore that can be used to create wrought iron or steel. The aim is to make both the feedstock and the energy without using fossil fuels.

In January, Vattenfall signed a letter of intent to form a partnership with mining firm Kaunis Iron to develop fossil-free and electrified mining operations in northern Sweden.

It is also developing wind farms in the Arctic Circle, most notably the Markbygden complex in Norrbotten county, which will have a capacity of up to 4GW when it is completed next year.

The sponge iron demonstration plant is due to be completed by 2026 and will be expanded to process up to 2.7 million tonnes of feedstock by 2030.

Martin Lindqvist, SSAB’s president, said: "That we are raising ambitions for a completely fossil-free value chain is unique and a message of strength from SSAB and our partners. We are seeing a clear increase in demand for fossil-free steel and it is right to speed up our groundbreaking cooperation."

Jan Moström, LKAB’s president, said: "The whole process starts with top quality iron ore in the mine and our transition plan gives strong economies of scale that pave the way for the competitive production of fossil-free steel by our customers.

"This is the greatest thing we can do together for the climate. Once we are ready, we will reduce the global emissions of our customers by 35 million tonnes a year, which is equivalent to triple the effect of parking all passenger cars in Sweden for good."

Image courtesy of SSAB

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