Vale inaugurates the world's first briquette plant in Vitória, Brazil

by David Fleschen

A journey of almost two decades of research in Vale's laboratories in Minas Gerais took on a new chapter on Tuesday 12th, when the company's president, Eduardo Bartolomeo, symbolically started up the world's first iron ore briquette plant at the Tubarão Unit in Vitória (ES). The product developed by Vale has the potential to revolutionize the steel industry, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the blast furnace by up to 10% or making it possible to produce zero-emission steel in the future, when green hydrogen becomes available.

"We are offering a product that will support our customers, the steel manufacturers, in adapting to the emission reduction targets being adopted by governments around the world, contributing to the fight against climate change," explained Eduardo Bartolomeo. "In addition, we are inducing Brazil's neo-industrialization, which will be based on low-carbon industry, and once again fulfilling Vale's vocation as an anchor of regional development," he said.During the inauguration ceremony of the briquette plant, the governor of Espírito Santo, Renato Casagrande, highlighted the convergence between Vale's and the state's decarbonization plans: "As we have a decarbonization plan, which is a 27% reduction by 2030, 50% by 2040 and 100% by 2050, Vale will play a fundamental role. This is a step that will be followed by other steps towards our sustainability."Espírito Santo's Vice-governor and Secretary for Development, Ricardo Ferraço, said: "It was here in Espírito Santo that Brazil saw the first ore pelletizing plant in the country. With this extraordinary R&D work that Vale's employees have put in place, we are presenting the world with the first briquette plant, which emits less CO2 and is therefore part of our project to decarbonize the economy."Load tests at the first plant began in August and showed good results, making it possible for the first plant to begin operating in 2023. A second plant in Tubarão is scheduled to open at the beginning of next year. Together, they will have the capacity to produce 6 million tons per year - the result of an investment of US$ 256 million, which generated 2,300 jobs at the peak of construction.More than 30 companies have already shown interest in receiving shipments of briquette in 2024. As it is an innovative product, production for the first two years will be used for testing at these clients' facilities. Most of the interested parties are from Europe and the Middle East, but there have been requests from clients all over the world, including Brazil, guaranteeing demand for more than a year. In 2024, the two Tubarão plants will produce around 2.5 million tons. Production will gradually increase until it reaches 6 million tons per year."The interest shown by clients makes us confident that briquettes are here to revolutionize steel production," explains Marcello Spinelli, executive vice president of Iron Ore Solutions. "The decarbonization of the steel industry will take place in stages. In the first, our clients are looking for ways to increase operational efficiency in the blast furnace route, reducing energy expenditure and, consequently, reducing CO2 emissions. At this stage, the briquette already makes a difference. And in the final stage, when green hydrogen will be available, the briquette will contribute to the production of zero-emission steel, which will be done through the direct reduction route, considered 'cleaner' than the blast furnace."

Source and Photo: Vale

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