Jindal Steel and Power on Friday announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with global mining giant Rio Tinto to jointly work for global commercialisation of the HIsmelt technology to be used in a fully integrated steel-making facility.

“JSPL will be introducing the HIsmelt technology for the first time in the world other than a pilot plant commissioned in Australia, an official statement issued by the company said here.

HIsmelt, short for high-intensity smelting, is the world's first commercial direct smelting process for making iron straight from the ore and is fully owned by Rio Tinto. The technology smelts iron ore fines directly using non-coking coals, and offers significant economic and environmental benefits to the steel industry, the statement said. “We look forward to developing the technology for usage in a fully integrated steel plant,'' JSPL Chairman and Managing Director Naveen Jindal said.

As per the MoU, Rio Tinto's Kwinana HIsmelt plant from Australia will also be re-located to JSPL's steel plant in Angul in Orissa, the statement further said. The Kwinana HIsmelt plant is owned by a joint venture comprising Rio Tinto (60 per cent), Nucor Corporation (25 per cent), Mitsubishi Corporation (10 per cent) and Shougang Corporation (5 per cent).

The relocated plant will be fully owned by JSPL, while both firms — JSPL and Rio Tinto — will jointly develop and market the HIsmelt technology in future, with sharing of royalties.

Rio Tinto's CEO for Iron Ore and Australia, Sam Walsh said: “We believe the HIsmelt process remains the future for iron making, particularly in locations where coking coal and good quantity of iron ore lumps are not available. HIsmelt is suitable to the resources of India and offers huge environmental benefits to a steel maker like JSPL,'' he added. JSPL, which has an annual turnover of $2.9 billion, now produces three million tonnes of steel annually and has two large plants at Angul in Orissa and at Patratu in Jharkhand. It also has a power production capacity of 1,800 MW.

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