Posted November 03, 2018 09:36:06 As we head into another round of uncertainty, there are many questions left unanswered about the future of steel manufacturing.
Key points: There are questions around how much steel will be produced in Australia, and how fast, given the ongoing carbon emissions crisis In a report published last year, the Australian Institute of Industrial Relations found that Australia’s steel industry is “the most vulnerable industry in the country” to carbon emissions.
That’s according to the research, which was funded by the Australian Industry Group (AIG) and the Australian National Institute of Energy and Technology (ANET).
The report also found that there is a “high degree of uncertainty” around the future production and trade of steel, with “significant uncertainty” surrounding how much of the world’s 1.3 billion steelworkers will be able to survive during a transition to a low-carbon economy.
“There are so many unknowns and it’s very hard to know where the future lies for Australia’s industries and its people,” says Australian Industry Leader James Mitchell.
The report by the ANI’s Steel Industry Institute (SII) was published in July, and the findings are the latest in a series of industry-specific reports that have focused on the global economic and environmental consequences of climate change.
The SII has published similar analyses for the Australian industry in recent years.
“It is extremely important for all stakeholders to be informed about the uncertainties around our industry,” says Professor John Latham, a researcher at the ANAIC.
“We have got a long way to go before the Australian steel industry will be fully sustainable.”
What is steel?
The key thing to understand about steel is that it’s made up of different materials.
It’s a solid, fibrous alloy made up primarily of carbon-containing minerals and carbon.
It is not a form of wood or a metal, but it is made up mainly of carbon.
The main raw material is steel.
But there are also other materials that make up the bulk of steel’s weight.
Most of the carbon in steel comes from carbon dioxide (CO2), which can be either natural gas or coal.
“Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of the burning of fossil fuels,” says Latham.
“The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is changing, so CO2 is more likely to be emitted.”
Carbon dioxide can also come from natural gas, which can also be a by-product of coal combustion.
“That is where the carbon-rich natural gas comes in,” he says.
“Natural gas is produced in a process called natural gasification.”
The amount of carbon dioxide produced in the process varies.
However, a majority of the CO2 produced by natural gas in Australia comes from coal, which makes up about 10 per cent of the total production.
“But the coal is the primary carbon-dioxide producing process in the world,” Latham says.
The Australian government says that, to protect the country’s climate, there is no need to reduce coal production.
The government says the carbon intensity of coal in the Australian economy is around 30 times that of steel.
“Steel is an integral part of our national economy, and it is a key part of the economy,” the government said in a statement last year.
“To ensure the long-term stability of our steel industry, we need to support the industry and create jobs, strengthen the economy and meet our commitments under the Paris Agreement.”
The ANI study found that the “long-term survival” of Australia’s large steel industry depends on whether it can maintain its capacity to manufacture steel for more than a decade, or for 10 years.
That means it needs to be “flexible” to meet those requirements.
“I think it is the case that if we were to have a steel industry that was stable for a decade or longer, then that would be an appropriate investment for Australia,” says Dr Andrew Gullin, a research fellow at the Sydney School of Economics.
“If we had to stay stable for ten years, then we would need to invest in infrastructure and a carbon tax,” he adds.
“This is the time when the government and industry need to do their due diligence and look at their long-run survival.”
The report suggests that the future growth of Australia would depend on how fast the carbon emissions from steel industry could be reduced.
“A more ambitious and aggressive action is required to reduce carbon emissions,” the report said.
“In particular, the reduction of emissions from transport by the transportation sector needs to begin early and be achieved without delay.”
Latham believes that the government has to do its due diligence in its plans to respond to climate change, because the “very long-lasting viability of the steel industry would depend upon the speed and intensity of the reduction.”
He says that while there is plenty of evidence showing the carbon footprint of a steel plant can be reduced, that evidence only shows that if the plant is already producing steel at an