UK-based metal processing technology company Binding Solutions (BSL) expects to decide on the location of its proposed iron ore pellet demonstration plant in the next few months after securing US$17.5 million of equity investment from Australia’s Mineral Resources.
Western Australia, Europe and UK have locations of interest, BSL says.
ASX-listed Mineral Resources, which has a current market value of about A$13.5 billion, has iron ore and lithium operations in WA, and a mining services division. It will provide technical, engineering, project management and procurement support to BSL for the proposed demonstration plant, which is expected to be able to produce 350,000-400,000 tonnes per annum of cold-bonded iron ore pellets by 2026.
Middlesbrough-based BSL is already running 2tphr pilot plant at its lab at the Materials Processing Institute in the Teesside area of north-east England. It says a commercial application of its technology at “a major steel plant in the UK” has been working since 2013.
Mineral Resources has also acquired the right to licence BSL’s patented cold agglomeration technology to produce pellets from iron ore at its own mines and will become the preferred builder of BSL pellet plants worldwide.
BSL claims its technology can cut energy use and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 95% and 93%, respectively, in pellet or briquette production compared to traditional methods, “while also virtually eliminating” sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions. It says the capital cost of a 1 million tonnes per annum pellet plant could also be 90% cheaper than a conventional facility.
“Iron ore dwarfs every other metal in the energy transition and is also the biggest polluter,” BSL CEP Julian Lee told Reuters.
“We are now focussed on rapidly progressing plans for our demonstration plant and exploring the potential to apply our technology to lithium, a critical battery material.”
Mineral Resources managing director Chris Ellison said BSL’s technology could play a significant part in decarbonisation of the global steel industry.