Biomassing – Carbon Capture
Establish biomass supply and processing facilities to produce biochar.
The Company is investigating the potential for establishing a biomass business to produce biochar to replace all coal used in the Iron Project's planned Pig Iron production. Recent studies have identified the potential for locally grown biomass to produce all the carbon required for the planned smelting of Burracoppin magnetite into pig iron (refer to ASX release 19/03/2021).
Biomass includes grass, wood, crops and certain "waste" products otherwise destined for landfill. Biomass has been used as a fuel but we intend harvesting the carbon it contains by processing it into biochar. The biochar will then be used to replace coal as the source of carbon required to smelt iron ore into pig iron. Our net operation will be cropping biomass to extract carbon dioxide from the air and smelting iron ore into iron metal which will release carbon (as carbon dioxide) into the air.
The project will have greenhouse (including carbon dioxide) emissions additional to those from the smelting operation, including from harvesting and processing biomass, mining and transport. These additional emissions in total will be significantly less than those from the smelting operation and it is anticipated that they could be mitigated by biomass/biochar production in excess of the smelter requirements and / or by purchasing carbon credits.
Our Iron Project will encompass carbon capture through agriculture and carbon release through industry: a cycle - what is taken out is put back in.
It is intended that the biomass business will enable the Project to produce pig iron with net zero carbon dioxide emissions together with an alternative crop for wheat farmers in the Western Australian Wheatbelt.
- Selection of biomass material suited to growing conditions in the Western Australian Wheatbelt.
- Assessment of process centres and transport logistics for movements of harvested biomass to process centres and biochar product from process centres to the smelter.
- Conduct planting trials to establish and gain:
- Information including: growth rates and yields related to location/water/soil; impacts on soil; propagation and control; resultant biochar product suitability for HIsmelt;
- Federal and State approvals where necessary for commercial growth;
- Carbon capture and storage characteristics.
- Determine biomass process (into biochar) characteristics by batch testing; followed by biochar test trials in the smelt process.
- Determine all greenhouse gas emissions and collections across all aspects of the project – including from mining, biomassing, smelting and selling operations.
- Feasibility study for biomass/biochar production.
NOTE: It is expected that it may take 5 to 10 years to achieve the production rate of 0.8Mtpa biochar required for the planned production of 1Mtpa Green High Purity Pig Iron. A depleting source of coal, production from which is scheduled to be phased out over the next 5 to 10 years, has been identified as a potential temporary source of carbon during the time it might take to establish the biomass production (refer to ASX release 19/03/2021).