Programme nominated for the Excellence in Low-carbon Steelie Award 2023

Aware of the importance of decarbonising the entire steel value chain, ArcelorMittal started in July 2022 substituting heavy fuel oil consumed in its Port-Cartier iron pelletising plant (in the province of Quebec, Canada) with pyrolysis oil: a renewable biofuel produced locally from residual wood biomass. ArcelorMittal’s pelletising plant has become the first in the world to replace heavy fuel oil with pyrolysis oil on a permanent basis, marking an important milestone in the iron and  steel industry’s energy transition.

As of this day, the consumption run rate is of 12 ML/year and plans to increase this rate are in motion. Ultimately, ArcelorMittal aims to substitute 15 to 19 ML of heavy fuel oil every year by 32 to 40 ML of pyrolysis oil a year. This could generate GHG emission reductions in Canada of around 60,000 tonnes a year.

This project is the first step of a broader strategy within ArcelorMittal called ‘From Forest to Steel’, aiming at reducing steel’s environmental footprint at the source by making bioenergy made out of renewable biomass (e.g. pyrolysis oil, biochar, biogas) a central input of ironmaking, instead of fossil fuels.

The ‘From Forest to Steel’ strategy relies on a close collaboration with local community leaders to ensure that it not only improves the steel industry’s environmental performance, but also generates significant social and economic benefits. The pyrolysis oil consumed by ArcelorMittal in Port-Cartier is produced by the Canadian company BioÉnergie AE Côte-Nord Canada (BioÉnergie AE), which uses a local sawmill’s residues as raw material. By substituting some of its heavy fuel oil by pyrolysis oil, ArcelorMittal enabled the reopening of BioÉnergie AE’s plant, whose operations had been put to a halt.

BioÉnergie AE is now the largest pyrolysis oil producer in Canada. The use of the local sawmill (Arbec)’s residues also relaunched its operations at a time when it could no longer find outlets for its by- products. The relaunch of those two companies was an important need expressed by the local community.

The pyrolysis oil project will have put in place the foundations of a strong energy  ecosystem – linking ArcelorMittal, the local forest industry and energy developers – that opens the way to the integration of various bioenergies in the steelmaking process. Greener steel starts with greener ironmaking.