Zero emissions metals & WA-made wind turbines

Wind turbines in a field

Western Australia is a globally significant resources hub with a wealth of mineral resources and some of the most advanced mining industries in the world.

The state is also endowed with the world’s best and most accessible renewable energy resources which have the potential to deliver the worlds cleanest and cheapest energy.

Pairing these natural advantages together has the potential to underpin a transformative growth phase for our minerals and mining sector, capturing significantly increased value, jobs and economic opportunity.

This transformation involves:

  • Decarbonising existing mining and minerals industries to position them for strategic advantage in global markets.
  • Transitioning from the exporting of raw materials to the development of advanced clean minerals processing and manufacturing industries that capture a far greater portion of the value chain here in Western Australia.

Green minerals and metals have been described by prominent economists as our next wave of prosperity’. WA could become a world leader in zero-carbon metals production with the right policy settings, incentives, innovation systems and investment.

This proposal provides an opportunity to address WA’s largest pollution sources and at the same time, produce significant employment growth. 

 

The proposal

Green metals can become a reality in WA if we start planning and building towards this now. Clean state advocates the adoption of a Green Metals Strategy for WA that will: 

  1. Establish a green metals and renewable mining research, innovation and industry development hub and seek Commonwealth Government
    co-investment as a Cooperative Research Centre or CRC.
  2. Establish a low carbon jobs Industry Advisory Council reporting to the Premier.
  3. Establish incentives and agreements (as part of government approvals and State Agreements) to support and accelerate the uptake of renewable energy in mining and minerals processing.
  4. Support the proposal for a quick-start green aluminium smelter in Collie.
  5. Invest or partner in the building of a Hydrogen powered steel making plant.
  6. Underwrite the renewable energy projects that will be required to power a green metals industry.
  7. Negotiate with likely steel producers to locate to WA, with an incentive package that includes low cost renewable energy and a guaranteed customer base.
  8. Guarantee procurement of green steel, which could be used in WA infrastructure projects, rail and bus fleets, buildings and wind turbine towers.
  9. Boost investment and ambition in the WA Green Hydrogen Strategy.
  10. Support the establishment of the Asia Renewable Energy Hub in the Pilbara to provide a large-scale renewable energy source for hydrogen production.

Green Steel

WA has incredible potential to introduce zero-emission steel production based on its iron ore and renewable energy resources. A new zero-emissions method of steelmaking using renewable-derived Hydrogen is showing great potential in other countries. To power a Green Steel industry at this scale would require about 160GW of solar wind and energy, and the annual production of over 5 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen, which would create a further 16,000 permanent jobs, and over 6400 jobs per year in construction and installation.

Carbon Savings

The transition to a green metals and mining sector in WA has the potential to deliver very significant carbon abatement. It is estimated that up to 25% of total carbon emissions from all Western Australians sources can be reduced and avoided through powering WA’s existing mining and minerals industries with renewable energy.

With the opportunity for significant growth in the size and scale of the industry and the export of green metal and hydrogen products, far greater global carbon savings could be delivered. This would allow Western Australia to transition from a major driver of global pollution through fossil fuel exports, to a major driver of global emissions savings and decarbonisation.

Case Study: Sun Metals, Queensland: The ‘Perfect case study on Australian Industry Decarbonisation'

Sun Metals, Queensland is a zinc refinery in Townsville, partly powered by a 125MW solar farm it built in 2018. The solar farm is the largest industrial solar project in Australia and covers one third of the refinery’s energy needs. In June 2020 CEO Kiwon Park announced they’d be building a renewable hydrogen plant, as part of the company’s long term plans for totally integrated operations, and in what they hope will be the first stage of a renewable export industry based in Townsville. The Queensland government has provided a $5 million grant towards the hydrogen project, as part of its $19m hydrogen strategy, which aims to position Queensland as a world leader in renewable hydrogen.

CSIRO recently estimated green hydrogen could be cost-competitive with existing industrial feedstock such as gas in many applications. With adequate policies it is more likely green hydrogen will become the least cost option. Bloomberg recently estimated hydrogen technology can be competitive with coal-based plants for steel production by 2030. 

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