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Climate Change

Climate change is a real and undeniable threat, affecting human wellbeing and environmental health in every country on every continent.

As stewards of the minerals and metals that are critical to decarbonisation and sustainable development, our industry has a responsibility to lead from the front and minimise the impact of operations on the environment. Our work in the years ahead will focus on developing short-and-medium term pathways towards our net zero goal. This includes developing Scope 3 target setting and reporting guidance, and advancing our Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles initiative (ICSV) towards the ambition of enabling mining operations to adopt GHG-free surface mining vehicles as soon as possible.

Issue at a Glance

  • Climate change affects every aspect of life on earth – from wildfires to flooding – and is increasingly threatening human wellbeing and environmental health.
  • A low carbon world is dependent on metals and minerals. They are the building blocks of renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels, and the innovations needed to accelerate pathways to a more sustainable world. We are unequivocal in our belief that the rush for materials must never be at the expense of communities nor the environment. We call this mining with principles.
  • Production of the minerals and metals essential to low carbon technologies is energy intensive. Our industry has a responsibility to meet demand while mitigating its own environmental impacts. In October 2021, ICMM members committed to a goal of net zero scopes 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 and will set meaningful short and medium-term targets to build clear pathways to achieving this goal, while also accelerating action to address scope 3 emissions and enhance disclosure.
  • ICMM members have made important progress towards implementing aspects of our net zero commitment:
    • The majority of ICMM members have now set out meaningful short and medium-term targets on how they will achieve the 2050 goal. By the end of 2023, all our members will have set them.
    • ICMM members are accelerating action towards reporting and setting targets for scope 3 GHG emissions. ICMM is working with members to improve consistency across all categories of scope 3 measurement and reporting.
  • We also recognise that access to ore is more difficult within mature operations – where deposits are deeper and grades lesser – requiring more trucks to drive longer hauling distances. At some operations, mining vehicles alone can account for >50% of total direct emissions — through our Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative we are working with original equipment manufacturers to deliver a new generation of GHG-free surface mining vehicles as soon as possible.
  • Members are focusing on taking an integrated approach to decarbonising, including championing the role of responsibly produced, used and recovered metals in a circular economy, and accelerating the roll-out of nature-based solutions, that conserve, restore or better manage ecosystems to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, at scale. Through our Skills for our Common Future initiative, ICMM is also helping to support people in host communities to equip themselves with the means to thrive in a net zero economy to enable a just transition.


Our Priorities

Goal of Net Zero Emissions by 2050 or Sooner

The level of GHG emissions in the atmosphere is raising temperatures on both sea and land, increasing the severity and occurrence of extreme weather events, and accelerating the melting of ice caps. As stewards of the minerals and metals that are critical to decarbonisation and sustainable development, our industry has a responsibility to lead from the front and minimise its impact on the environment. As a consequence, we are working with members to support conformance with ICMM’s 2021 Climate Change Position Statement, and alongside stakeholders to develop guidance on Scope 3 emissions accounting and reporting to enable meaningful action with upstream and downstream stakeholders.

GHG-Free Surface Mining Vehicles by 2040

There are around 28,000 large mine hauling trucks in operation – collectively emitting over 68 million tonnes of CO2 every year. Electric and hydrogen fuelled trucks offer alternatives to more traditional diesel-powered transportation, and ICMM is working alongside original equipment manufacturers to promote operational and technological innovation that will enable mining operations to adopt GHG-free surface mining vehicles by 2040. We are doing this by increasing the operational readiness of mine sites to be able to adopt zero-emission solutions at a faster pace, including the enabling infrastructure, capacity building and clean energy procurement. To help companies start a conversation on how to progress action on promoting operational and technological innovations, a Maturity Framework has been developed to determine an operation’s current and future desired status.

Accelerating the Use of Low-Emission Technologies

On an average mine site, around half of energy consumption is electricity and the rest comes from the use of fossil fuels, mainly diesel. ICMM members are focused on making progress in mitigating GHG emissions across the full emissions profile. Towards this end, we are supporting members to overcome challenges in adopting zero-emissions solutions by developing technical insights that help promote collective progress on tackling direct emissions at the mine site and across the value chain. We are also working more broadly, to motivate uptake of low/zero-emission solutions across the industry.