ArcelorMittal does not wait idly for the arrival of public aid for the plan to produce green steel in Asturias. Despite the delays in the European Union, the multinational continues with its roadmap and all the elements of the plan to decarbonise the Gijón factory before the end of 2025 are already being processed. In December of last year, the environmental authorizations for the hybrid electric arc furnace were completed and now the environmental evaluation of the direct iron ore reduction plant (DRI system) using green hydrogen has begun.
This second plant, with an annual production capacity of 2.3 million tons of pre-reduced iron (a kind of pellets) will supply both the future electric furnace in Gijón and the two that the compact steel mill in Sestao (Vizcaya) has. It is the key piece for ArcelorMittal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in Spain by 50%.
The Principality’s Vice President and Regional Administration, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Juan Cofiño, highlighted yesterday that ArcelorMittal’s investment will have a notable effect on improving the environment in Asturias, “which is already transitioning towards a less intensive model in carbon dioxide emissions”. Cofiño highlighted that the intensity of community emissions has been reduced by 42%, going from a value in 2015 of 1,400 tons of CO2 equivalent per million euros of GDP to 810 in 2019 “and showing a clear downward trend.” He stated this yesterday at the General Meeting of the Principality to respond to the deputy of Podemos Nuria Rodríguez, who denounced the “inaction” of the regional government, given the data from a BBVA Research study that places Asturias at the forefront of CO2 emissions per unit of GDP in Spain.
Rodríguez also called on the regional government to detail the “concrete” effects that Arcelor’s investment will have on the environment, taking into account that “it will receive 450 million euros” of public aid. Cofiño pointed out, as this newspaper has already announced, that the aid, pending the approval of the European Commission, will exceed that figure and pointed out that the impacts are being evaluated. It was then that he pointed out that the electric furnace project has already been submitted to an environmental impact assessment and that he obtained a favorable declaration last October. In addition, he pointed out that in December the substantial modification of the integrated environmental authorization was approved. “And currently, right now, the environmental assessment of the iron ore direct reduction plant project and its integrated environmental authorization have begun,” Cofiño said.
Blast Furnace Startup
The DRI plant and the electric arc furnace will replace the blast furnace “A” in Gijón, where work began yesterday to reactivate it after a four-month stoppage due to the contraction of the market for steel products in Europe. Next week it will produce pig iron at 70% capacity.