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Former Fortescue Heads Join Forces for Green Metal Production

Former Fortescue Heads Join Forces for Green Metal Production
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Two former Fortescue heads, Michael Masterman and Bart Kolodziejczyk, have recently joined forces to create something unique and fundamental to worldwide needs. Their latest investment is Element Zero. It is a green metal company focusing on sustainable iron and metal production. As a result, Fortescue Metals will become a pioneer in promoting a greener industrial transition.

Michael Masterman is a former Fortescue chief financial officer. On the other hand, Bart Kolodziejczyk is a former chief scientist. The duo has patented their method of electro-reduction that converts iron ore to high-purity iron.

Fortescue Metals ASX Updates

The new company, Element Zero, has already launched its website. There, it talks about using renewable Fortescue energy and unique chemistry to produce silicon, iron, nickel, and other future-facing metals. They will produce 30-40% less energy per tonne of iron than coal and gas-based processes without CO₂.

Element Zero is going to start production with iron ore. It aims to reduce 7-9% of global CO₂ emissions with these processes. The Fortescue Metals patents cover the entire process and its unique chemistry. This further involves the complete circuit design for mineral processing, incorporating a unique electrolyte.

The company has reportedly raised $US10 million in seed funding earlier this week. The entire process was led by the investment firm Playground Global.

Fortescue Metals Renewable Energy Ambition

Element Zero is part of the greater plan to develop “green iron” technologies. These technologies could help all Australian miners reduce the scope of three emissions created when their customers combine iron ore and coking coal to make steel.

The oxygen in iron ore often combines with the carbon in coking coal during the steel-making process. This leads to further carbon dioxide emissions in the environment. Fortescue Metals’s leaders want to eliminate this issue by promoting a more sustainable plan.

Big miners in Australia, such as Rio Tinto, Fortescue, and BHP, are investigating such future options. It will enable them to export pure iron from Western Australia rather than iron ore. The process will happen by removing oxygen and other waste products in ore.

Traditionally, pure iron extraction uses potent greenhouse gas methane from the iron ore. This process is often termed direct reduced iron and is common worldwide. Miners like Fortescue Metals have studied whether they can make carbon-free DRI instead of using the traditional method. They have considered using green hydrogen rather than methane to remove the oxygen.

Yet, experts have already warned that converting the Pilbara iron ore industry to hydrogen DRI would be expensive. It can cost up to $30 billion and require the installation of many renewables to double Australia’s power generation capacity.

Expectations from Fortescue Metals

Element Zero’s process is a bit unique in terms of iron production. Here, the iron ore is dissolved into an alkaline solution that does not include water. Pure iron plates are placed onto a cathode when renewable electricity is passed through the solution. It can be collected for sale from the same solution.

The company is also commissioning a green iron pilot plant in the Perth suburb of Malaga. Around 100 kilograms of iron ore will be fed into the process daily.

Mr Kolodziejczyk, one of the two Fortescue heads, had received an Order of Australia in 2022. It was related to the services for hydrogen energy science. He opined that the lack of hydrogen in Element Zero’s process was an advantage. It helped lower capital costs and allowed for an efficient and direct use of renewable power.

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