Liberty House pledges carbon-neutral steel operations by 2030

Global metals and engineering group Liberty House has announced plans to roll all of its steel plants into a single company, largely in order to target carbon-neutral operations by 2030.

The newly created corporate will employ more than 30,000 people and have manufacturing operations in 10 nations. Image: Liberty House

The newly created corporate will employ more than 30,000 people and have manufacturing operations in 10 nations. Image: Liberty House

The move, announced by Liberty House boss Sanjeev Gupta today (29 October), will see the conglomerate’s upstream and downstream steel manufacturing, mining and distribution businesses around the world incorporated as a single entity by the end of 2019.

Gupta said a key driver of the move was to place Liberty House’s GREENSTEEL strategy “at the heart” of the combined group. The strategy’s overarching target is for carbon-neutral operations by 2030, which Liberty House claims is the most ambitious in the sector.

In order to achieve carbon-neutrality, Liberty House is producing steel using renewable energy and placing a focus on recycling scrap over using virgin materials. The firm currently recycles three million tonnes of scrap steel annually, predominantly in Australia, and will now invest in technology to do so at scale in the UK and US. Steel is notably the world’s most recycled material – at 650 million tonnes annually.

Other key focus areas will be the exploration of hydrogen generated from renewable sources, decarbonising transport, investing in energy efficiency measures and installing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Once these activities are complete, Liberty House will offset the new steel group’s “residual” emissions.

Additionally, Liberty House has committed to working with other companies – both within and outside of the metals, mining and engineering spaces – to maximise carbon reductions.

Gupta claimed the GREENSTEEL strategy is reliant on a “balanced model, rather than a silver bullet” and said it could “open the door to the re-industrialisation of the developed world by reviving and restoring an often neglected industry”.

“We are creating a new force in steel with the size, scale and agility to forge a path towards a sustainable future for our steel businesses and the communities in which we operate,” he said.

“Our integrated group will stretch around the world, with a financial and governance structure suitable for an intercontinental business of our size.

“We recognise that becoming carbon neutral by 2030 is a very ambitious target but we have firm foundations already with our GREENSTEEL strategy in motion, and with technical viability of hydrogen usage for direct reduced iron now proven, it gives us the confidence that such developments allow us to aim even higher with our goals.”

Sector-wide shocks

The move from Liberty House comes after a report from CDP this summer revealed that water scarcity, global warming and an increased carbon price will place more than 10% of the steel sector's economic value at risk by 2030.

More than 90% of metal produced in the world is steel, and the sector is accountable for around 7% of global emissions. 

In response to the challenge, corporates have been setting new ambitions and partnering for more ambitious action. Earlier this year, UK steelmakers and university experts teamed together on a seven-year research programme aimed at boosting the productivity of the steel sector. The £35m SUSTAIN programme aims to double the gross added value of UK steel manufacturers by 2030, increasing the number of jobs to 35,000 and boosting productivity by 15%.

Elsewhere, Tata Steel has unveiled a new technology that is able to reduce the carbon emissions from iron and steel production by more than 50%, while four other companies - ArcelorMittal, Baoshan Iron & Steel, Beijing Shougang and Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel - have partnered with Lanzatech, a firm which recycles industrial waste gases and other waste streams into ethanol-based aviation fuel. The fuel is already being used by airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, which has already been trialled on commercial flights.

Sarah George



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