Swedish mining company to use green hydrogen as it looks to reduce CO2 emissions

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By Isabel da Silva
Kiruna, Sweden.
Kiruna, Sweden.   -  Copyright  Euronews

Europe's largest iron ore producer wants to use green hydrogen in its production process, as it looks to go carbon-free.

State-owned LKAB in Sweden runs the world's largest underground iron-ore mine in the Arctic city of Kiruna, with its site there representing 80% of all iron ore in the European Union.

Iron is steel's main component and will play a key role in the green industrial revolution.

The new Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology (HYBRIT) will allow for cleaner steel production by significantly reducing CO2 emissions.

Green hydrogen refers to hydrogen produced using renewable energy, rather than fossil-based fuels, which is the common method for making it.

Susanne Eriksson Rostmark, a research leader at LKAB, told Euronews that HYBRIT will help to de-carbonise the steel industry.

"When we deliver iron ore pellets, they consist of both iron and oxygen. To remove oxygen, our clients today use coal and carbon, which form carbon dioxide," Rostmark said. 

"In this new process, we will use hydrogen that removes oxygen and makes only water vapour. So it's a totally carbon dioxide-free production."

The EU Innovation Fund contributed €143 million towards this project.

But the company says the bloc could invest more to get ahead of competitors, such as China and the US.

Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth metals was found earlier this month in Kiruna, with at least one million tonnes waiting to be mined.

However, a lot more money and technology will be needed to excavate such metals, which are used to manufacture electric vehicles and wind turbines.

The Swedish government, which now presides over the EU Council Presidency for the next six months, has a solution to deliver on the European Green Deal, according to Ebba Busch, the country's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Energy, Business and Industry.

"Obviously, we are not interested in a trade war with the US. We are not interested in having single member states now racing to have even more state subsidies for every single country," she said in Kiruna.

"However, we need to find a way, that the EU has a forceful and powerful response to this, making sure that our businesses and industries are given better conditions for reaching those high-set goals. 

"I think that this is possible, but those will be very important discussions with the Commission and the Council in the next coming six months."

The European Commission will present its proposals next month for a new green industrial plan and a new European Sovereignty Fund to enhance public investment.