According to a new report by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), members operating in the mining sector saw a modest emissions abatement in the 2020 financial year. The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS) shows scope 1 and 2 emissions fell by 1.3 per cent.
These figures predate the commencement of MCA’s Climate Action Plan which was released in June 2020, as well as the climate investments made by the sector in the 2021 financial year.
A majority of members have announced or are considering emissions reduction targets between now and 2050, including net-zero emissions. Anglo American has set a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, whereas BHP, Downer, EnergyAustralia, Glencore, Idemitsu, Newcrest, Newmont, Rio Tinto and St Barbara have targeted to achieve net-zero by 2050.
The report has identified activities that will facilitate emissions reductions at a scale of more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. In the mining industry, these include energy efficiency initiatives, renewable energy to replace current energy sources, divestment of high-emission business streams and ventilated air methane abatement. The report has found that the industry’s abatement initiatives have the potential to reduce emissions by 30 per cent.
The progress report has highlighted how the industry is taking practical climate action. Examples include:
- Newcrest contracting for more than 40 per cent of its Cadia mine’s projected energy demand from 2024 with wind energy providers.
- Newmont’s US$500 million investment in climate change initiatives.
- BHP’s deal for renewable energy supply aimed at halving emissions from its QLD coal mine energy use.
- Rio Tinto’s deployment of solar PV and battery storage at Gudai-Darri in WA estimated to reduce emissions by 90,000 tonnes per year.
- Kirkland Lake Gold investing US$75 million each year for the next five years in environmental technology centres aimed at further reducing its carbon footprint through technology and innovation.
- Methane captured at Anglo American’s Moranbah North, Grosvenor and Capcoal underground metallurgical coal mines being used by nearby power stations to generate more than 140 MW of electricity per annum, or enough to power 90,000 homes.
- AngloGold Ashanti upgrading its current diesel haul fleet at its Tropicana gold mine by trialling a fleet of six new electric haul trucks to reduce diesel consumption.
According to the report, the industry is seeing significant opportunities in new energy sources (renewables, nuclear, biofuels and carbon capture and storage), greater resilience (new production processes and products) and resource efficiency (more efficient production and distribution processes).