Mitigating GHG emissions and building resilience

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Climate change is one of the key global challenges of our time.

The increasing level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere is steadily raising the temperature of the land and oceans which, as a consequence, will increase the severity and occurrence of extreme weather events, accelerate the melting of the ice caps and cause increases in sea level.

There will also be broader environmental and human consequences of climate change, including impacts on agriculture, stress on ecosystems, health impacts from extreme heat, reduced access to drinking water and damage to infrastructure due to extreme or prolonged weather events.

The mining industry will be expected to not only provide the metals and minerals needed for a low carbon future, but also to play its role in reducing GHG emissions to meet the Paris Agreement climate goal of keeping global warming well below 2C (3.6F) .

Strengthening operational capacity

ICMM members commit to being part of the solution to climate change by implementing operational level adaptation and mitigation solutions and continuing to contribute to the sustainable production of the commodities which are essential to the energy and mobility transition.

Mitigation

Member companies recognise the need to reduce emissions from the use of fossil fuels and related products. They also support collaborative market-based approaches to accelerate the use of low-emission technologies as part of a transition to a low carbon energy mix.

Mine of the future graphic

ICMM members are focused on making progress in mitigating GHG emissions across the full emissions profile. This involves considering synergies and partnerships with suppliers, customers and other mining companies as well as future technology convergence and thinking through how to incorporate these into existing and future operations by building adoption readiness across all levels of the organisation.

On an average mine site, around half of energy consumption is electricity and the rest comes from the use of fossil fuels, mainly diesel. Reliance on renewable energy through on-site projects and power purchase agreements is an increasingly viable technical and competitive alternative to decarbonise the power supply in key mining jurisdictions like Australia, South America and Africa. To tackle direct emissions from mine sites, ICMM members are collaborating with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in a non-competitive space to accelerate the development of a new generation of mining vehicles and improve existing ones, with the ambition to introduce GHG emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040.

Investors are increasingly interested in companies’ scope 3 emissions. Acknowledging this, ICMM is working with members to identify a common approach and methodology to account for and report scope 3 emissions. In this area, there is also interest from members to understand how to better engage with suppliers and customers to reduce emissions through supply chain collaboration.

Adaptation

Mining operations are often located in remote and climate-vulnerable areas. This means that mining operations are often exposed to greater physical risks than other economic sectors. Droughts, floods, storms and other climatic phenomena are latent threats with associated risks, such as water supply stress and transport disruption. These risks must be identified early by companies in order to properly address them to minimise negative economic, environmental and social impacts. If left unmanaged, climate change can weaken a company’s balance sheet, eg through the need to make unplanned capital investments to adapt.

ICMM has been working for several years on developing insights and tools that can guide and help our members to build resilience by identifying and effectively managing these risks and opportunities:

Disclosure

ICMM recognises the importance of providing climate-related disclosure in order for stakeholders to measure and respond to climate change risks and opportunities. This includes transparency around the climate-related risks the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) has brought.

All company members currently disclose scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions on an annual basis and have committed to set emissions reduction targets at a corporate level.

Scope 1, 2 and 3 graphic

Supporting a low carbon economy

The clean energy transition is expected to be much more metal and mineral intensive than fossil-fuel based electricity generation. The rapid deployment of low carbon technologies needed to reach a 2C pathway, or below, will also mean that the demand for the metals and minerals needed to produce these technologies will rise. For example, minerals such as lithium and cadmium are essential for renewable energy technologies, alongside metals such as steel, copper and aluminium.

Tailoring strategies to the different categories of metals and minerals is critical for both helping meet the challenge of supplying strategic minerals and minimising emissions from the clean energy transition. All stakeholders along these metal and mineral supply chains should look for strategies that can help to reduce emissions and avoid exacerbating demand risks.