Magnetite & the Environment

One of the key environmental advantages of magnetite concentrate is its purity, which leads to less energy consumption and lower carbon emissions in steel production. (Magnetite concentrate is exothermic, releasing heat during smelting and, therefore, consuming less energy in the overall steelmaking process when compared with hematite.) But value-adding low grade magnetite ore to produce magnetite concentrate for export is an energy and water-intensive process. MagNet’s members are developing processing systems that maximise efficiencies in water and power consumption in order to deliver a commodity that offers environmental benefits in steel production. Member companies are, therefore, tackling the challenge of meeting international export standards while minimising the impact of project activities on regional ecosystems and the global environment.

Independent experts have quantified the net environmental benefit of using magnetite rather than Direct Shipping Ore (DSO) for steel production. They have concluded that over the full steel production cycle (ie, from ground to steel), each tonne of magnetite concentrate saves about 108 kilograms of CO2 emissions when compared to DSO fines. (See Public Reports)

These findings support MagNet’s call for recognition of the challenges and benefits related to magnetite mining, production and consumption as decision-makers formulate policies aimed at sustainable growth and international competitiveness. (See Objectives)

As part of their contribution to regional communities, MagNet’s members are committed to sustainable mining practices and aim to leave a positive environmental legacy for the long-term. Demonstrating a commitment and capacity to satisfy these high standards is, after all, essential to the viability of Australian magnetite projects and the emerging industry’s future.

As MagNet members progress their projects, they have developed comprehensive environmental management plans in compliance with stringent legal and regulatory requirements set by State and Federal Governments. The sector is also taking the initiative to promote conservation beyond project boundaries by supporting, for example, regional waterway protection, regional conservation initiatives and native fauna and flora management.

Efforts reflecting these values include:

  • Asia Iron Pty Ltd providing in excess of $1.3 million to the Botanic Gardens Parks Authority scientific research and recovery programs
  • CITIC Pacific Mining’s construction of a 450MW combined cycle gas-fired power plant with 40% lower emissions than a conventional open cycle plant and a 51GL desalination plant to help conserve water supplies in the Pilbara
  • Gindalbie Metals’ commitment to increasing knowledge of the conservation of significant fauna and flora near the Karara project, including a monitoring and management program for the Western Spiny-tailed Skink, Shield-back Trapdoor Spider and Mallee fowl.

MagNet members support the expansion of power sources and upgrading of existing power grids to enable access to cleaner energy sources, such as wind and solar. Other non-member magnetite projects will, of course make a significant contribution to regional infrastructure too.  For example, a 220 kV power transmission line approved for the proposed Grange Resources Southdown project would also provide opportunities to harness wind energy in the Great Southern Region of WA. MagNet has previously supported the initiative to construct a large solar farm in the Mid-West, as part of broader efforts to harness WA’s plentiful solar energy resources. (See also Objectives – Infrastructure & Gas Supply)

For more detailed information about our members’ environmental policies and practices, please refer to the company links on the Members page.