Green steel to green zinc – here are two Korean projects looking to Australia as their renewables base
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South Korean steel-making giant POSCO is considering Australia as a ‘regional strategic base’ for its green-steel and hydrogen projects.
Speaking at the Australia-Korea New Energy Forum this week, the company’s head of hydrogen Hyung Chul Lee said it is also keeping an eye on other production bases in key regions such as the Middle East, North America, South America, and India, as potential sources for 5 million tons of low-carbon hydrogen “with cost competitiveness” that POSCO wants to secure by 2050.
“Australia is rich in resources, so it is expected to become an even more important, strategic country for POSCO in the coming hydrogen economy era,” Lee said.
This partnership would be one of many in Australia for the steel company who has locked in business deals this year with FMG (ASX:FMG), Origin Energy (ASX:ORG), Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) and Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill venture to help meet carbon neutrality goals.
The largest single private customer of Australian exports, POSCO, hopes to become a “global hydrogen provider” to the international and Korean markets.
Ark Energy Corporation Pty Ltd, the Australian subsidiary of Korea Zinc Co Ltd – the largest zinc, lead and silver producer in the world – said it intends to be 100% renewable by 2025 and is helping sister company Sun Metals, owner of the Sun Metals Zinc Refinery in Townsville, Queensland, to become the first refinery in the world to produce ‘green zinc’.
Ark Energy chief executive officer Daniel Kim said it was the company’s intention to redefine the ‘R’ in Australia and Korea’s bilateral relationship from resources to renewable energy, including green hydrogen, and to create a new growth engine for the next 50 years.
Kim said Sun Metals has also dedicated itself to powering entire operations by renewable energy by 2040, with an interim target of 80% by 2030, a process which started some years ago when the group commissioned the 124MW Sun Metals solar farm at the zinc refinery.
To accelerate the overarching energy transition of the group, Ark Energy has acquired a 30% interest in the 924MW MacIntryre Wind Farm, owned by Acciona Energy, around 60km west of Warwick in Queensland.
“When you combine that generation profile of both the solar and the wind across a 24-hour period, by the end of 2024 we will be 85% green for Sun Metals, and between now and then we have a couple other options to pluck that gap,” he said.