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BHP signs LOI for Australia-East Asia iron ore ‘green corridor’

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Global Mining Review,

A consortium, led by the Global Maritime Forum and consisting of BHP, Rio Tinto, Oldendorff Carriers and Star Bulk Carriers Corp., have signed a letter of intent (LOI) to assess the development of an iron ore ‘green corridor’ between Australia and East Asia.

To mobilise demand for green shipping and to scale zero- or near-zero greenhouse gas emission shipping, governments and industry decision-makers are increasingly looking to enable and simplify the task of decarbonising the maritime sector by establishing green corridors: specific shipping routes where the economics, infrastructure, and logistics of zero- or near-zero emission shipping are more feasible and rapid deployment can be supported by targeted policy and industry action.

“Zero-greenhouse gas emission pathways require the creation of a parallel value chain that involves new ways of working, new contractual relationships, and drives the development of decarbonised fuel production and infrastructure. This new iron ore green corridor collaboration is an important step towards enabling zero greenhouse gas emission shipping from both the supply and demand side,” said Johannah Christensen, CEO at the Global Maritime Forum.

In 2021, the Getting to Zero Coalition report ‘The Next Wave’ demonstrated how green corridors can be conceived, prioritised, and designed with a pre-feasibility study for an iron ore route between Australia and East Asia. The study suggested that green ammonia is the likely fuel choice for this corridor based on favourable production conditions, an enabling regulatory environment and willing stakeholders.

Taking the study further, the parties in the consortium intend to jointly assess green ammonia supply, bunkering and first mover support mechanisms, necessary for their participation in a viable Australia to East Asia iron ore green corridor.

“BHP’s membership of this green corridor consortium is testament to the importance we place on targeted exploration and partnerships in identifying pathways to decarbonisation for the maritime sector. As one of the largest bulk charterers in the world, we recognise this opportunity and have announced a number of partnerships across our value chain to seek to accelerate the process,” added Rashpal Bhatti, Vice President of Maritime and Supply Chain Excellence at BHP.

Through the work in the consortium and with inputs from the wider supply chain, the partners aim to develop a framework as a preparatory step towards real-world implementation of a green iron ore shipping value chain.

Laure Baratgin, Rio Tinto’s Head of Commercial Operations, commented: “As a leading charterer, we recognise we have an important role to play in the decarbonisation of our own shipping and the broader industry. This collaboration is another important step towards accelerating the delivery of our climate commitments on shipping, as part of Rio Tinto’s broader goal of net zero emissions by 2050 and a 50% reduction by 2030, and supports efforts in providing our customers and partners with sustainable value-chain solutions.”

The green corridor collaboration’s outputs are intended to lay some of the groundwork for real world implementation of the green corridor.

“Focusing on the feasibility of decarbonising specific trade routes of the world is an indispensable step to create the foundation for the maritime energy transition. Consistent with our vision to lead in the industry’s efforts to phase out greenhouse gas emissions, Star Bulk is committed to partnering up with other frontrunners to enable progress in this multi-dimensional, yet so critical for our future, challenge,” stated Charis Plakantonaki, Chief Strategy Officer at Star Bulk Carriers Corp.

The new consortium will facilitate a robust public-private dialogue to investigate conditions that need to be in place to mobilise demand and to feasibly scale zero or near-zero-greenhouse gas emission shipping on the corridor.

Peter Twiss, CEO and President at Oldendorff Carriers, concluded: “Oldendorff Carriers is delighted to be working with like-minded leaders in the industry to accelerate solutions for decarbonising shipping. We view our commitment to stewardship of the environment as an urgent obligation and participating in the establishment of a green corridor in one of the most significant trading routes is a big step forward.”

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