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Trudeau in Hamilton to mark ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s move toward greener steel production

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at ArcelorMittal Dofasco on Thursday for a groundbreaking ceremony marking the steelmaker's progress in moving toward decarbonization. Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

Hamilton is leading the way on the world stage with a multi-million dollar project to move toward making greener steel.

The federal and provincial governments have each contributed millions toward ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s $1.8 billion decarbonization plan, which aims to shut down the steelmaker’s coke ovens and blast furnaces by 2028 and expand the use of electric arc furnace technology.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Hamilton for a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, saying the $400 million federal investment announced last July is helping Dofasco become the world’s first major steel producer to move toward a cleaner process of making steel.

“Right now, the first major steel company in the world making the switch towards electric away from coal is happening right here in Hamilton,” said Trudeau.

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“This big step is being led right here by all of you Canadians and by a company that has an understanding that Canada is a place that has a better idea about what the future looks like and how we’re going to get there than just about any other place in the world.”

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The provincial government also contributed $500 million to the project, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 3 million tonnes per year by 2030.

That’s a 60 per cent reduction of emissions — almost the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road.

Tammy Oommen, associate program manager for ArcelorMittal’s decarbonization program, said they’re in the process of determining how to maintain production while also building the new facility needed to make green steel.

“We need to look at how we best place the equipment so we can manage this transition and keep our current assets running to continue to make steel,” said Oommen.

“We are also very close to our first construction activity on site, which is the demo of our decommissioned number one coke plant … as it’s sitting right in the way of where our new [direct reduced iron] facility is going to go. So, a tremendous amount of work from our team and really getting into the details of this project and what we need.”
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That demolition is scheduled to begin in January.

Construction of the new facility will begin in 2024 and is expected to last over the next two years, followed by a 12- to 18-month “transition phase” that will be complete by 2028.

Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of ArcelorMittal Dofasco, said this groundbreaking is a ‘historic moment’ for the company and will ensure Hamilton’s role in steel manufacturing remains prominent while also helping Canada transition to a net zero economy.

“Because of the volumes of steel used in the world, nearly 2 billion tonnes, steel represents nearly 7 per cent of the total carbon emissions. So it is absolutely critical that we decarbonize and achieve net zero. As a first step toward achieving net zero by 2050, we have a target to reduce emissions intensity across the group by 25 per cent by 2030.”

François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, said the project will shape the future of Hamilton for generations to come.

“There are generations of people who have worked at Dofasco, but now to see that this plan is going to be there for the next 30, 50 years, that we will be manufacturing the greenest steel in the world, that will power the greenest car in the world, I think there’s a sense of pride.”

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