ArcelorMittal Partners with Sasol to Boost Hydrogen Economy
ArcelorMittal SA (AMSA) and South Africa's petrochemicals giant Sasol are working together to build a green hydrogen hub in Saldanha Bay. This is expected to give the hydrogen economy in South Africa a huge boost.
Saldanha Bay is the largest natural port on the African continent. It is on the west coast of South Africa.
The town suffered a serious economic blow when AMSA shut down its steel manufacturing plant there in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Global steel magnate Laxmi Mittal’s acquired AMSA after he first helped the ailing state-owned steel manufacturer Iscor turn its fortunes around in 2004.
Now AMSA plans to become the first African green flat steel producer using green hydrogen at its plant in Saldanha Bay while cutting back on its carbon footprint at its flagship steelworks in Vanderbijlpark.
Sasol was started during the time of apartheid to make fuel from coal because the white minority government was being punished by the rest of the world. Now, it is a major player in the petrochemical industry around the world.
The two companies will work together on studies to find out if the area could be a hub for exporting green hydrogen and its derivatives as well as making green steel.
Also being looked into is whether carbon from AMSA's Vanderbijlpark steel plant could be turned into sustainable fuels and chemicals by using renewable electricity and green hydrogen.
AMSA CEO Kobus Verster was hopeful that the project would be the start of the company's journey to reduce its carbon footprint.
Verster said at the signing of the joint development agreement on the outskirts of the Africa Energy conference in Cape Town this week, "By getting the most out of our installed assets, we will also help our host communities grow their economies."
The executive vice president of Sasol's Energy Business, Priscillah Mabelane, said that the projects "hold promise to unlock South Africa's potential to be a global player in green hydrogen and derivatives." The project was welcomed by the government as well.
Alan Winde, the Premier of Western Cape, said, "This is an exciting, bold new project that the Western Cape Provincial Government thinks will be an important part of our push for green energy."
“The fact that the agreement includes a project in Saldanha Bay, which is well-placed for GH2 development, has massive potential for numerous reasons, namely helping to dig the country out of this energy catastrophe and creating more jobs in critical fields which needs to be fully harnessed," Winde added.
Winde was talking about the crisis that has caused load shedding to happen every day for up to three hours in the whole country because the state-owned electricity company, Eskom, can't meet its obligations because its power plants are broken and it has a lot of debt.
Kaashifah Beukes, Freeport Saldanha CEO, said Saldanha Bay has a strong strategic fit with Sasol's ambition to be a leading driver and contributor to the development of South Africa’s green hydrogen economy.
“In addition, Freeport Saldanha is a strategic partner for SASOL and AMSA, adding value to their exploration of new markets by bringing together several stakeholders to drive catalytic investments in sustainable industrialisation and product streams," Beukes said.