LIBERTY Ostrava Has Taken
a Major Step Towards Carbon
Neutrality, Says Sandip Biswas
Today, steel production is one of the largest industrial producers of carbon emissions. However,
this will soon change at the LIBERTY Ostrava steelworks. „We are taking major steps to achieve
carbon neutrality by 2030,“ says Sandip Biswas, GFG Alliance’s Chief Investment Officer and
Interim CEO for LIBERTY Primary Steel and Mining, of which LIBERTY Ostrava is part of. Among
other responsibilities, Sandip is responsible for leading LIBERTY’s CN30 initiative, which aims to
ensure the business has carbon neutrality by 2030.
How is LIBERTY Ostrava going to meet
its goals of carbon neutrality?
transformation strategy is making good
progress. We took an important step in
July when Sanjeev Gupta, our Executive
Chairman, signed a contract with the
Italian company Danieli for the supply
of two hybrid electric furnaces for
LIBERTY Ostrava. Sanjeev also signed
a Declaration of Cooperation with ČEZ
ESCO, part of the ČEZ group, to partner
in the identification and development
of the renewable energy and hydrogen
In the Czech Republic, we’ve also launched
the GFG Foundation – a charity founded
by Sanjeev and his wife Nicola aimed at
inspiring, encouraging and helping future
generations into a career in industry - as
well as the GREENSTEEL Academy, which
will help upskill our existing and future
employees for the new technologies we
will need to become carbon neutral.
Can you describe the benefits that
the new furnaces will bring?
They are essential to our CN30 initiative.
The new furnaces, the first of their kind
in Europe and which will be in place by
2025, will have a combined capacity of 3.5
million tonnes per annum and will reduce
the overall CO2 emissions of the Ostrava
steelworks by more than 80% by 2027.
The new furnaces will reduce the plant’s
reliance on imported coal and iron ore and
will have even greater production flexibility.
What else will this take apart from
The two, 200-tonne furnaces are highly
flexible in the charge mix they use, from
large quantities of Hot Metal and Direct
Reduced Iron (DRI/HBI) up to 100% scrap in
the second phase of the project, which will
follow the planned installation of a 400kV
electricity line into the steelworks. This will
be made possible by patented electronics
technology to control arc current and
voltage, allowing for a more efficient and
stable power supply to the furnaces.
However, in order to achieve the goal
of carbon neutrality it will also be
necessary to have green energy. How do
you plan to obtain it?
For this purpose, we have entered into
a partnership with ČEZ ESCO, which is
part of the ČEZ Group. Together we
will look for low-carbon and carbon-free
technologies for electricity generation,
especially in the field of renewable energy
sources and industrial use of hydrogen.
How much will the green revolution cost
It will be a huge investment. The acquisition
of arc furnaces and other related activities
alone represent an investment of CZK 8.6
billion. Ostrava’s transition to GREENSTEEL
will be financed through a range of sources
including debt, equity, free cashflow and
through accessing government support
programmes. However, the transformation
is critical to meeting our target of being
carbon neutral by 2030.
Is this goal achievable, given the
unprecedented rise in energy prices?
Of course, in addition to achieving carbon
neutrality, we must do everything we can to
make the business profitable, competitive
and sustainable for the long term. The new
technology will be more efficient, which
will help us achieve significant savings,
while we will also obtain energy from
our own renewable sources. In short, it is
necessary to look at the transformation
holistically so that once it is complete
LIBERTY Ostrava will be economically,
environmentally and socially sustainable
for the benefit of the whole Ostrava region.
The Ostrava steelworks has been part
of the GFG Alliance of Entrepreneur
Sanjeev Gupta since 2019. How much
has it changed since then?
We bought LIBERTY Ostrava at a time
of the biggest decline in the steel
industry since 2008 quickly followed by
the COVID pandemic. In the first two
years, we supported the company with
a total of CZK 3.6 billion to keep the
plant running and people working. In
addition, we focused on improving the
operational and business performance
of the enterprise. In 2021, the business
recorded record production results and
had a strong start to 2022.
Does investing in the new furnaces also
represent a signal to the region that you
will continue to develop the company
and stay in Ostrava?
Absolutely. We employ six thousand
people here and, as in every place where
we do business, we strive to be a good
neighbour and member of the community.
We support local cultural and sporting
events, such as the popular Colours of
Ostrava festival as well as numerous nonprofit organisations. We also continue to
reduce the impact of our operation on
the environment, as we have done for more
than twenty years. I believe that our current
investment in GREENSTEEL will ensure
that in the future heavy industry will not
be seen as a burden on the environment,
but as a strategic sector contributing to the
prosperity of the region.
Mr Biswas, thank you for the interview.
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