Circular Opportunities
The PEAK Hong Kong|October 2017

Why Hong Kong companies should start turning their waste into a supply source.

Anna Simpson

Baotou Iron and Steel, a listed Chinese mining and steel operation, is looking to achieve zero waste in its operations, with the help of a chemical engineering research team. This is no small feat – China manufactures half of the world’s iron and steel, and Baotou pumps out 10 million tonnes of steel a year, drawn from its Baiyunebo Mine in Inner Mongolia. It’s a dirty business and one that seems far removed from environmental concern.

Slag – the term for the left-over material when metals are refined from ore – can be highly toxic. Over 20 years ago, slag was considered inert and innocently added to the construction materials for railroads, rooftops and roadways, among other things. Can it be transformed from an environmental hazard into a source of economic value?

Baotou is partnering with a spin-off from Columbia Engineering Lab, GreenOre CleanTech LLC, to build a commercial plant where slag will be broken down in a process similar to mineral carbonation and rock weathering, using carbon dioxide in the process. With the help of Columbia Engineering Lab, Baotou will now be able to sell their processed slag on to other industries, from paper to cement, as a valuable resource. And because carbon dioxide – the world’s foremost greenhouse gas – is used in the process, it effectively reduces greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere – another win for the environment.

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