Steelmaker ArcelorMittal steps up carbon-neutral push

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BRUSSELS, March 17 (Reuters) - ArcelorMittal (MT.LU) will offer green certificates to customers willing to pay a premium for low-carbon steel, it said on Wednesday as it also launched a fund to support breakthrough technologies to curb carbon emissions from steelmaking.

Steelmaking accounts for about 7-9% of global carbon dioxide emissions, but the world’s largest steelmaker aims to eliminate its net CO2 emissions by 2050 and is pursuing projects using hydrogen to convert iron ore to iron, as well as carbon capture and storage technology to help to meet its goal.

"Steel, I believe, is the material of choice to achieve that objective," Chief Executive Aditya Mittal told a news conference, referring to ArcelorMittal's 2050 climate goal.

"We start with a product which already has a very low carbon footprint relative to other materials ... steel is infinitely recyclable."

The Luxembourg-based group said it would give customers the option to buy "green steel certificates" with their steel orders, representing emissions savings ArcelorMittal has achieved compared with the average CO2 intensity of European steelmaking through projects including reducing coal use in blast furnaces, allowing customers to report a reduction in their own emissions.

ArcelorMittal expects to certify 600,000 tonnes of available green steel by the end of 2022. The company ships in excess of 70-80 million tonnes of steel a year, of which roughly 1-2% is deemed green, either through certificates or recycled steel produced in furnaces powered by renewable electricity, it said.

The share of green products in the company's overall offering could rise to "roughly 10%" in the next decade as the company's low-carbon projects expand, the CEO said.

The company also launched a fund on Wednesday to invest in companies developing technologies to curb the greenhouse gas emissions produced during steelmaking, with plans to replenish the fund with about $100 million a year.

"It's a long journey ahead, we're not close to the end of it," Mittal said.

The company last month reported 2020 core profit of $4.3 billion, up from $1.95 billion in 2019, and announced a $1 billion cost-cutting programme. The two-year programme aims to cut contractor numbers and reduce office staff by a fifth while boosting productivity.

Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine and Kate Abnett Editing by David Goodman

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