Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman of GFG Alliance and LIBERTY Steel Group, shares his views at the American Chamber of Commerce, Adelaide on strategies to eliminate the dependence on fossil fuels to make steel, and how Australia can become a world leader in a new, clean hydrogen economy and a global hub for GREENSTEEL.

Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman of GFG Alliance and LIBERTY Steel Group, shares his views at the American Chamber of Commerce, Adelaide on strategies to eliminate the dependence on fossil fuels to make steel, and how Australia can become a world leader in a new, clean hydrogen economy and a global hub for GREENSTEEL.

 

Why there couldn’t be a better time for Australia to claim its place as a modern, efficient, low-carbon, global steel power.

How LIBERTY intends to produce competitive GREENSTEEL totally free of fossil fuels by using hydrogen.

How Australia can become a world leader in a new, clean hydrogen economy by exporting GREENSTEEL rather than exporting hydrogen.

How development of magnetite iron ore resources is crucial to the production of GREENSTEEL.

How Australia should play a major role in the new industrial age, making a massive and positive contribution to climate change.

Why we need to rediscover how to be sustainable, to move from being apart from nature to being part of nature.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Why there couldn’t be a better time for Australia to claim its place as a modern, efficient, low-carbon, global steel power.

 

How LIBERTY intends to produce competitive GREENSTEEL totally free of fossil fuels by using hydrogen.

 

How Australia can become a world leader in a new, clean hydrogen economy by exporting GREENSTEEL rather than exporting hydrogen.

 

How development of magnetite iron ore resources is crucial to the production of GREENSTEEL.

 

How Australia should play a major role in the new industrial age, making a massive and positive contribution to climate change.

 

Why we need to rediscover how to be sustainable, to move from being apart from nature to being part of nature.

 

Thank you Premier, and thank you to all the members of AMCHAM for inviting me to speak today.

A very good afternoon to everyone.

Now … according to the American writer H.L. Mencken....

Wars will never cease until babies come into the world with larger brains and smaller adrenal glands.  

True or not, the world is currently experiencing tectonic shifts in the geo-political landscape.   

Minor eruptions are everywhere and recently they’ve combined with some gigantic ones.

Globalisation versus the need for self-sufficiency now requires a major rethink...

As the Premier has already mentioned, so many of our leaders are realising how strategically weak they've made themselves,

by relying on foreign powers for the essentials of everyday life.

Everything has become clogged... from ATM’s to Rail and Port Heads.

And the reality check Australia must now confront…is only just in time.

Combine the local with the more global, such as Brexit in Europe and COVID everywhere… and you have a recipe for a whole new kind of world...and not necessarily the one you'd hoped for.

And I haven’t even mentioned the ongoing sad recent events in Eastern Europe recently.

As many have already commentated, we are staring at a world not unlike that of the cold war in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s… possibly even worse.

So, to steal a phrase...there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns:

...specifically, how all of this will affect the future of American, European... and right here... Australia’s, own foreign policies.

It’s all so much more than just policies and politics though, because politics is also economics, especially when things are tough and getting tougher...

..when costs are rising, inflation is topping out and the supply of pretty much everything is getting harder.

At times like these...sovereign manufacturing capability moves from important to critical...

… as the Premier said, we need to expand capacity on shore, without increasing emissions.

Which is exactly the opposite to what’s been happening over the last 3 decades.

Now, food security and energy security are the two that normally spring to mind.

After all, they come pretty high-up in the hierarchy of daily needs.

...High but not necessarily the most significant.

You do have to eat, and you have to stay warm, sure, but to do this you also have to work, and preferably work close to home.

So, home grown is once again about to become the new mantra... at a time when so many countries have been desperate to farm out their manufacturing capabilities, to where it’s apparently cheaper, or easier... or both.

But now, we’re worried all over again, that we’ve let too much experience and expertise simply evaporate.

We’ve come to realise just how flimsy and fragile our international supply chains really are... and that we’ve become too dependent on others.    

...Others, not all of whom may have our best interests at heart!!!!!    

Just look…  

In the 50’s and 60’s some 30% of the Australian workforce were in manufacturing, now it’s around 7%;    

In the US the figures are not dissimilar. 22% in 1979. Now just 8% of American workers actually make things in their domestic economies.

It’s actually a situation we’ve known about for decades...known but not necessarily fully understood...the decline or, more often, the transfer of jobs to countries where the labour is cheaper....often a whole lot cheaper.    

And we’ve benefitted: 

cheap food,

cheap phones,

cheap white goods,  

cheap travel,  

cheap....well pretty much everything is cheaper.

But sometimes cheap can work out a bit too expensive, and that’s what we’re seeing now.

Fortunately, we are now seeing a broad recognition by governments and the private sector... that we need to work together to transform current manufacturing processes and practices...to help repair economies to achieve long-term sustainability for future generations.

To do this just right, lots of things have to be in place including a smart workforce, access to the right raw materials, inexpensive, abundant renewable energy without the billowing CO2 , and other damaging emissions.

Emissions, that according to the latest report by the IPCC, are still on course to disrupt pretty much everything… everywhere on earth…

Closer to home, unless there is a profound change in our behaviour, we can expect a noticeable increase in the frequency and ferocity of the kind of weather seen recently in Australia.

Along with our new Premier, Dr Madeline Taylor, of Macquarie University, firmly believes that Australia, with its vast resources in renewable power and key minerals,has the potential to help meet and master the future needs of the planet.

Well, that is why we are here and that’s why we are continuing to invest in this abundant and forward-looking country.

Where renewable energy becomes both the catalyst and the major contributor to increased production, more value addition, and expansion in employment…while also shrinking our carbon footprint.

For me, one example says it all:  

Australia exports enough iron ore to produce 500 million tonnes of steel, over a quarter of the world’s annual needs.   

Yet less than 1 per cent of this is processed into steel domestically.

And now with global steel consumption set to double in the next 30 to 40 years, could there be a better time for Australia to claim its place as a modern, efficient, low-carbon, global steel power?

This belief is central to my group’s endeavours to improve and further develop mining and steel production, utilising renewable energy at Whyalla in South Australia.

Steel is critical to building the modern world.

Now you’d expect me to say that.   

...But irrespective of my profession, steel is more than ever before the DNA of our civilisation.

But it comes at a cost.

A cost that is now too much for the earth to bear.

Clearly, we all need to do something about it.   

It’s no longer enough for our planet to just pay the price.

Especially when so many nations like America and Australia are also counting on large scale infrastructure projects to bolster their economies.

And new infrastructure means more steel.   

More traditional steel… more carbon.

More carbon, less us.

We clearly need more of the good stuff and a whole lot less of the bad, as our industry already contributes about 10% of the world’s direct emissions from fossil fuels.

So, what’s the solution?

With the age of fossil fuels slowly coming to an end, the role of steel and hydrogen is right up front in the spotlight.

A glaring spotlight that shows both steel and hydrogen come with their own specific problems.

They say a problem shared is a problem halved.

...And in this case, it’s doubly true.   

Put steel and hydrogen together and the problem simply goes away.

Stop using coking coal in blast furnaces and replace it with Hydrogen in Direct Reduced Iron (or DRI) furnaces.

Coke emits CO2 in quite shocking amounts.

Hydrogen emits water.

So, it’s CO2 to H2O.

This stuff.

Simple then.

Simple, but not easy...and certainly not easy on the pocket.

As moving hydrogen around is both costly and challenging.

Each stage of storage, shipping and re-gassing, adds formidably to the cost - and that’s on top of the capital required to build the plants and infrastructure.

OUR solution is both logical and obvious, rather than try and ship the hydrogen abroad, instead produce here in abundance, and simply use it here domestically.

By using hydrogen to make steel in-situ, we solve the storage and transport problems at a stroke.

This coupled with bringing down hydrogen production costs, by using large scale renewables in key locations, will allow us to produce competitive GREENSTEEL totally free of fossil fuels.    

In addition, it will enable large and effective production of hydrogen enabling Australia’s own industry to advance rapidly.

And what’s good for Australia is also good for us.

Good, also, for the rest of the world.

It makes SOUND economic sense for Australia to produce and export GREENSTEEL rather than merely trying to export hydrogen.

Especially, as value-added GREENSTEEL will be in ever higher demand, given the growing pressure on decarbonisation.

Indeed, this could be at the heart of a new industrial revolution in Australia, offering this highly progressive nation the chance to be a world leader in a new, clean hydrogen economy.

One that offers it all, ...greater output, less pollution, more jobs.

Not surprising perhaps that we’ve been working so very hard on this.

This morning we made public some of our magnetite iron ore expansion plans.

We will soon complete construction of this first stage of the process to increase production to 2.5 million tonnes a year.

This marks an important step in our journey to develop South Australia's vast magnetite resource.

Magnetite, a high quality and more energy efficient iron ore, is essential for the production of DRI required to make GREENSTEEL.

This expansion also offers us the chance to increase exports to our Steelworks in Europe and to strengthen our position as a consistent supplier of high quality, low carbon magnetite.

For this and a dozen different reasons, it really is...

Whyalla’s time to shine.

It has amongst the best conditions for solar and onshore wind anywhere in the world.... hence our 280 MW Cultana Solar project and now... with its abundant magnetite iron ore reserves starting to be unlocked, this will enable new, low carbon technologies and processes to be used....   

Add to this...

a deep-sea port, a skilled workforce and a wholly supportive community backed up by a brand new forward-looking,

forward-thinking government led by a young, energetic, environmentally committed individual, dedicated to improving local issues...and the conclusions are obvious.

We have all the ingredients necessary for a world leading GREENSTEEL hub.   

Indeed, as we just heard, our new Premier, has already pledged a 250 MW hydrogen production facility at Whyalla, one that we intend to utilize towards the production of carbon free DRI.

Using the green products from this exciting new industry, we will forge partnerships with steel producers in Asia, Europe and America.

And there’s more.

The potential benefits, with hydrogen production established, go well beyond steel and could position South Australia as a global hub for other hydrogen-enabled technologies and advanced manufacturing.

I firmly believe that Australia can play a major role in the new industrial age and make a massive and positive contribution to climate change.

That’s why the global alliance I am so proud to run, has a commitment to become carbon neutral, not in our industry's standard time horizon

"by 2050",

but two full decades earlier...

by 2030.

To repeat what has just been said, we really have no time to waste, the world simply cannot wait.

2030 is both a punishing schedule and one that comes at a substantial cost.

But, we all agree, tight schedules and high costs should not, cannot and will not stop us.

Now, I haven’t just become a convert to climate change.

....it's been growing on me for years.

The world I grew up in is vanishing.

You can see it, feel it and breathe it, all around.

And it’s accelerated noticeably during my own lifetime.

Now, irrespective of everything else we may have achieved as a species, this must rank as our biggest ever mistake.

But, if we act now, I believe that we can yet put it right.

And that is exactly what we are trying to do at Whyalla, and soon at many of our other plants across the globe.

That famous picture of our blue planet taken 50 years ago by Apollo-8 showed a tranquil world, spinning silently in the vastness of space.

This was before any of us were aware that there were problems.    

Our horizons were not limitless.    

Nature could not absorb all our waste products.    

The world couldn’t just suck it up.

So we must learn to be smarter…

… to once again become sustainable.

Thousands of years ago, we lived a sustainable life because that was the only option.    

All these years later, it’s once again our only option.

And there’s a nice circularity to this.

We need to rediscover… how to be sustainable.    

To move from being apart from nature...to becoming a part OF nature.

This is not about saving our planet… it’s about saving ourselves.    

And perhaps above all

Saving Future Generations.

Thank you all