ArcelorMittal Dofasco President and CEO, Ron Bedard, and Associate Program Manager for our Decarbonization Investment, Tammy Oommen, were keynote speakers, kicking off Canada’s Innovation Corridor Summit (CICS) at the Royal Botanical Gardens on Wednesday, June 29.

Ron Bedard, President and CEO, and Tammy Oommen, Associate Program Manager, outlined our approximately $1.8-billion project to end coal-based steelmaking to about 250 delegates from business, government, post-secondary institutions, technology incubators and sector organizations.

According to the CICS website, the event “is designed to fuel regional connectivity and collaboration within Canada’s Innovation Corridor – a globally significant economic region centred in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and anchored by Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton.”  

The summit “serves as a key pillar in helping to inform and drive transformational actions that shape the corridor’s future as a world-class region measured by talent, productivity, and quality of life.”  

The theme this year was Transition to Net-Zero, covering the challenges and opportunities that decarbonization will bring for industry, infrastructure, transportation, and research within the corridor. 

Ron shared that it wasn’t long ago that he thought that decarbonizing the steel production cycle wasn’t something he’d see in his lifetime. Now, he is leading the biggest transformation in our company’s 110-year history. 

“ArcelorMittal Dofasco has a global leadership position on this. We are finding solutions that will bring important change to the people of Hamilton, Canada and the world. We have a world-class team in Hamilton who are setting the stage for other steelmakers around the world,” he told the audience. 

Ron Bedard, ArcelorMittal Dofasco President and CEO

“ArcelorMittal Dofasco has a global leadership position on this. We are finding solutions that will bring important change to the people of Hamilton, Canada and the world. We have a world-class team in Hamilton who are setting the stage for other steelmakers around the world."

Thanks to contributions from the federal and provincial governments of a total of $900 million and partnerships from around the world, ArcelorMittal Dofasco will be an important part of the solution to climate change, says Ron.

“This will ensure Dofasco will be here for generations to come.”

The first step of decarbonization will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2030. The second step is to reach net-zero before 2050.

That commitment, which is infused in the company from the executive suites to the newest hires, said Ron, will require the development of new technologies, including hydrogen, biocarbon and carbon capture utilization and storage.

ArcelorMittal's XCarb Innovation Fund is investing in companies developing breakthrough technologies that will accelerate the steel industry’s transition to carbon-neutral steelmaking.

Since its launch in March 2021, XCarb Innovation Fund has committed US$180 million in projects and technologies.

"Things are developing quickly because the brightest people in the world are working on this. The momentum is there. The exact road map isn’t clear yet and there may be uncertainty about the technology but there is no uncertainty about our commitment to get there.”

Developing, planning and executing a project of this scale requires deep expertise at the local and global levels of the company, Tammy told summit delegates. It requires reskilling the workforce to operate and manage new DRI and EAF facilities, doubling electrical and natural gas supplies, and at its peak, a construction program that will see about 900 workers on site.

“When I arrived at Dofasco as a young engineer in 2000 and toured our site, I learned that there were many physical and challenging jobs in the process. In many cases, you are working outside all the time, whether it’s the dead of winter or the heat of summer.”

New assets will mean employees will work in state-of-the-art green facilities after undertaking an estimated 160,000 collective hours of training, Tammy said.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our employees. In 2028, when a new engineer comes to Dofasco and tours the site, they will see a completely different environment than what I saw 28 years before.”

Tammy says she’s proud to work on this project because she can show her children that many people are working on important environmental solutions.

In her remarks at the summit, Hamilton Mountain MP Lisa Hepfner said ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s decarbonization transformation “is turning the world on its head” and will move Hamilton from Steel City to Green Steel City.

Panel moderator Kate Flynn, general manager of the Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk College, said steelmaking’s shift to net-zero production is both one of the greatest challenges and one of the greatest opportunities in Canada’s climate change commitments.

Globally, steel production accounts for 7 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Only a few years ago, it seemed the decarbonization of steelmaking was impossible. But the transformation underway now at ArcelorMittal Dofasco will bring incredible opportunities, great jobs and important community benefits,” said Flynn, who is a member of the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Community Liaison Committee.

“I think we will look back on this moment as transformative for our entire community.”

What other summit attendees have to say about decarbonization

Eugene Ellmen, a Hamilton-based writer specializing in sustainable business and finance

“It was only in 2020 that the Canadian Steel Producers Association made its net-zero commitment and less than two years later, ArcelorMittal Dofasco has come up with its plan, created a team and landed the funding. It will eliminate three million tonnes of carbon emissions without reducing production. That represents incredible progress. Planning to make the future DRI facility hydrogen-ready is a forward-thinking approach because the big question is how to get from a 60 per cent reduction in emissions to 100 per cent. A lot of capital and know-how are going into that.” 

Kate Flynn, General Manager of the Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk College

“I think that we’re going to look back at Dofasco’s decarbonization commitment, and more specifically the DRI-EAF transformation, as a pivotal moment for climate change mitigation. Not just regionally, but globally. Here at home, it’s going to kickstart the region’s transformation to the low-carbon economy. And then I think the Dofasco team is going to innovate to demonstrate leading solutions that will transform the sector.”

Cyrus Tehrani, Chief Digital Officer & Director of Innovation, City of Hamilton

“ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s project to move to green steel production and the expected reduction in GHG is a game changer for steel production in Hamilton. Benefits in terms of economic activity, environmental benefits, as well as the technical capabilities and innovation, that will result in ArcelorMittal Dofasco decarbonizing their operations are significant. The company is a role model to other sectors to show how partnerships and collaboration on such transformative projects can help reach 2050 net zero targets and further advance Hamilton, Ontario and Canada’s technical and innovation leadership in the decarbonization economy.”