August 26, 2020

Rio Tinto: Partnering to reduce the carbon footprint across our value chains

Rio Tinto has formed a partnership with Baowu Steel and Tsinghua University to develop and implement new methods to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental performance across the steel value chain.


Case Study Type

  • Abatement project R&D
  • Value chain partnership
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Problem Being Solved

Rio Tinto operates within value chains which have significant scale globally, from the extraction of minerals in the ground to the manufacturing and use of consumer products. These value chains include some processing steps which are highly energy and carbon intensive such as aluminium smelting or steelmaking.

Steelmaking is less carbon intensive than aluminium, but the steel industry operates at a significantly greater scale with emissions across its value chain accounting for about 9% of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry. Emissions at the mining phase account for less than 5% of the overall carbon footprint of the steel value chain as most of the emissions are generated at the steel making stage.

Tackling climate change in these value chains will require collaboration across countries, industries and society.


To support the systematic change required, Rio Tinto works with its partners – including steelmaking customers – through the value chain to explore solutions to tackle climate change and collectively improve environmental performance.

In 2019, Rio Tinto signed a partnership Memorandum of Understanding with China’s largest steel producer, China Baowu Steel Group and Tsinghua University, one of China’s most prestigious and influential universities, to develop and implement new methods to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental performance across the steel value chain.

Under the partnership, a joint working group has been established to promote capacity-building to strengthen greenhouse gas inventory and reporting programmes, develop and implement technologies and initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the whole steel value chain and explore climate solutions unlocked through collaboration within the value chain.


Already, the partnership is delivering a work programme which includes R&D programmes on ore characteristics and blends to reduce carbon emissions from steelmaking, an expansion and integration of existing carbon models and forums to enable our climate leaders to come together to focus on decarbonisation over the full value chain.

To support the long-term goals of the partnership, additional projects are being explored including technical programmes focused on blast furnace performance, long-term transition pathways for the steel value chain and a number of research projects performed at the Tsinghua-Rio Tinto Joint Research Centre for Resources, Energy and Sustainable Development.

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