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Beyond Pledges – Miners Taking Concrete Steps on the Road to Zero Carbon

Mining companies are beginning to wrestle with the challenges involved in reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, and to take concrete steps toward change. As reporter Melodie Michel writes in the latest issue of Energy and Mines, “30 years may seem like a long time, (but) achieving 2050 targets will require making fast investment decisions. And that means integrating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction in everyday business planning.”

For some companies, this means both top-down and bottom-up approaches. Michel’s article quotes Sunil Kumar, Vice-president Energy Strategy and Engineering for Kinross Gold, “The commitment is coming from our CEO, and we’re talking about climate change in business planning meetings with each of our sites. And as each of the sites looks at their business plans over the next few years, they’re also looking at the GHG emissions profile, and what are the things that can be done to reduce it.”

In the process, companies are realizing just what the GHG targets they’ve set for themselves entail. Usually, this means decarbonizing their sources of power and material movement first. E&M cites Wood MacKenzie research which shows that emissions from power can range from 48% to 84% of total site emissions. Says Benjamin Attia, Senior Research Analyst, Energy Transition Practice at the firm, “Disproportionate amounts of decarbonisation could be achieved from decarbonising power and transport; that alone is a significant step of progress towards net-zero mining.”

Yet that’s just the low-hanging fruit. Per Andrea Vaccari, Director of Responsible Production Frameworks and Sustainability at Freeport McMoran, also quoted in the article, “We have identified four main levers in our pathway to 2050: decarbonising our electricity supply, energy and asset efficiency, electrification, and process innovation.” Addressing these areas will require significant investment, and also some amount of risk.




Investing in the Future

As Michel writes, one of the challenges in setting a net-zero target is that many of the technologies that will be instrumental to a low-carbon world are yet to be commercialized. She quotes Andrew Cooper, Energy Specialist at New Gold: “There’s a lot of new technology out there, a lot of new concepts, new innovation. So, the challenge is taking that innovation and looking at what’s going to be available to help us achieve our long-term targets, and you have to take some risks and make some assumptions.”

There’s another area that miners are beginning to focus on as well. Most are already looking at their cutting their scope 1 and 2 emissions – emissions from their power sources and their own operations, respectively. However, a true zero carbon future means tackling scope 3 emissions – those produced by companies’ suppliers and customers in their own processes, too.

E&M concludes, “What is becoming clear is that setting credible net-zero targets might be the easiest part of the journey. Juggling the many moving parts that will need to fall into place in order to make this a reality will be the real challenge for miners moving forward.”

Read the full article here.





Well worth 7 minutes of your time

In an unforgettable speech at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference on November, the great Sir David Attenborough explains, “The (climate emergency) comes down to a single number – the concentration of carbon in our atmosphere.”

In the first 1:20, he traces the progress of that number throughout history with a compelling animation that irrefutably illustrates the nature of the challenge that climate change poses to our planet

It is because of human activity, he asserts, that “the global temperature has not wavered over the past 10,000 years by more than one degree Celsius – until now.” Watch the full speech here.