Tag Archives: GHG emissions

Sustainable mining solutions to meet net-zero targets

Mining is an essential process that has become even more critical as the world moves towards a greater energy transition. Minerals are a crucial component in clean energy technologies such as electric vehicles, solar panels and batteries, and the demand for these minerals is increasing, Howden’s Livio Salvestro says.*

According to the International Energy Agency, the demand for certain minerals to support the transition is projected to increase more than twentyfold by 2040. Meeting global carbon reduction targets is essential to mitigating the effects of climate change and the mining industry will play a key role in this effort. Mining practices must adapt and evolve to be more environmentally friendly and help decarbonise operations. In line with global efforts to meet the Paris Agreement objective, mining companies are setting targets to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

A PwC survey of CEOs in 2021 showed 76% of global mining and metals executives were concerned about climate change and environmental damage, up from 57% a year earlier. And 70% of global mining executives said they planned to increase their long-term investments in sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives.

Challenges in decarbonising the industry

There are several ways mines can reduce their carbon footprint, but moving to a 100% electric mine would represent a transformational shift for underground mine operations where diesel engines have dominated for over 100 years. Underground diesel equipment represents one of the biggest environmental challenges a mine faces. Switching to an electric energy source can significantly impact mines, reducing their ventilation shaft and tunnel sizes; the size of their fans and heating and cooling systems; their carbon footprint; and their capital investment.

Diesel equipment can also represent a significant financial burden within a mine’s ventilation cost footprint, so moving to electric sources while updating ventilation solutions can be highly effective for improving overall environmental credentials. While progress has been made, which will result in future benefits, there are opportunities for the mining industry to reduce energy consumption and emissions through a combination of advanced sustainable technologies, actionable insight into mine operations and automation – solutions that exist today.

Energy efficiency in mining

Digital advancements are enabling the industry to become more efficient, safe and productive by collecting, analysing and implementing data to optimise mine conditions, processes and maintenance decisions. Digital technologies and automation can also be applied to ventilation.

Ventilation is a vital process in a mine’s operation. It is necessary for providing fresher air and, in some instances, cooling the working environment, clearing blast fumes and diluting exhaust fumes and gases generated by mining.

This means it needs to run consistently and reliably, often accounting for substantial operating costs and up to 40-50% of a mine’s total energy consumption. Advanced technology and more efficient ventilation systems can reduce costs and significantly contribute to a mine’s carbon reduction objectives.

Livio Salvestro is Global Mining Team Leader at Howden

The primary goals of ongoing mine ventilation developments are to mitigate environmental impact, as already outlined, by reducing GHG emissions and improving underground air quality. They are also necessary to create efficiency that is sustainable and reliable, so a mine continues to produce energy savings throughout its lifecycle. Optimising overall health and safety models is crucial, which rely on automation for unprecedented operational capabilities.

There are several solutions to support these goals, including electric mine air heating, which provides a simple and safe solution with zero emissions. Through a modular design approach, these systems use industrial grade, Incoloy tubular elements selected for optimal functionality and maintenance.

Optimised ventilation systems are also available to drive energy savings and contribute to net zero commitments. Products like Ventsim™ CONTROL utilise intelligent software that communicates with hardware devices to remotely monitor, control and automate airflow and heating and cooling systems.

Thermal heat recovery can result in operational flexibility and reduced emissions. By employing a system of heat transfer coils, liquid pumping stations and control and automation technology, the mine can generate heat recovery using potential sources like waste heat from mine exhaust air, central boilers, power generators, and compressors or green sources such as geothermal energy.

Ammonia refrigeration systems offer a sustainable solution with no harmful CO2 or HFC emissions. Ammonia is considered the “green refrigerant” and has been used for many years, however, it is now coming into its own with the demands for reducing the footprint of hydrocarbon and HCFC refrigerants that can affect the atmosphere.

Demonstrable ventilation success

Companies like Howden have been successfully supplying these green mine ventilation solutions for years, and the results are clear.

The Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia required a new indirect air heating, ventilation and filtration solution. Howden developed a unique thermal heat recovery solution that included airlock access, pipe work engineering, main and bypass damper, and fan outlet. Howden’s solution can be used as a reference for the remainder of the mine’s development. Each heater house was designed to capture 22 MW of waste heat from the hot water system.

An electric heating system was supplied to a high-grade underground mine in northern British Columbia, Canada. The system included two direct-fired, hybrid M.I.D mine air heaters and enabled the mine’s electric mine air heating system to take advantage of low electricity prices.

Ventilation automation has been a part of several large-scale mine operations for decades and some mines have experienced reductions of more than 50-60% in energy consumption and 11,500 t of CO2 emissions.

The Newmont Éléonore mine in Quebec, Canada, brought in a Ventsim CONTROL system, which included ventilation monitoring stations and the automation of all ventilation equipment. To date, there has been a 43% reduction in mine heating costs, a 56% drop in underground ventilation electricity costs and a 73% decrease in the cost of surface ventilation electricity.

Recognising the proven benefits of Howden’s Ventilation on Demand system, Newmont – Éléonore won the Eureka Prize from Écotech Québec.

As a pioneer, Howden engineered ammonia refrigeration systems in mines during the 1970s. More recently, the company supplied ammonia screw chillers at the Prominent Hill mine in South Australia for OZ Minerals. In partnership with the customer, Howden created solutions that had the highest functionality while supporting their net-zero targets.

As environmental pressure builds, especially on mining companies, now is the time to implement proven solutions to support a cleaner energy future.

*Livio Salvestro is Global Mining Team Leader at Howden

Nevada Gold Mines kicks off construction of 200 MWAC TS Solar Facility

Nevada Gold Mines (NGM) says it is building a 200 MWAC (Megawatt, alternating current) photovoltaic solar facility to accelerate its decarbonisation program in line with Barrick’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Roadmap.

NGM, majority owned and operated by Barrick Gold Corporation, hosted a celebratory groundbreaking ceremony this week, marking the commencement of construction of its TS Solar Facility. The facility is adjacent to NGM’s TS Power Plant near Dunphy, Nevada.

The solar array will be constructed in a single phase with commercial production expected in the June quarter of 2024.

NGM is partnering with three Nevada-based contractors to complete the civil, solar substation and mechanical construction. Domestically-sourced steel piles are arriving on site in preparation for module foundation construction and tracker installation. At peak, the project is expected to employ approximately 250 people.

NGM Executive Managing Director, Peter Richardson, said: “At NGM, we embed the principles of partnership and sustainability into every decision we make. We continually seek opportunities to source materials and labour as close to our projects as possible. The TS Solar Facility is a great example of how we can partner with local resources on a project that not only benefits the environment, but also provides sustainable long-term social and economic benefits.”

Upon completion, the project will supply renewable energy to NGM’s operations and realise 254,000 t of CO2-equivalent emissions reduction per year, according to NGM. This will result in an 8% emission reduction from the company’s 2018 baseline.

NGM has committed to a 20% carbon reduction by 2025, which will be achieved through the TS Solar facility and the modification of NGM’s TS Power Plant, providing the ability to use cleaner burning natural gas as a fuel source.

Barrick is targeting an overall 30% reduction in emissions by 2030 with the goal of achieving net-zero by 2050.

BHP, Pan Pacific Copper and Norespower collaborate on ‘green’ shipping project

BHP has partnered with Pan Pacific Copper (PPC) – a member of JX Nippon Mining & Metals group – and Norsepower, a leading global provider of auxiliary wind propulsion systems, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from maritime transportation between BHP’s mines in Chile and PPC’s smelters in Japan.

The parties are conducting a technical assessment and plan a retrofit installation of wind-assisted propulsion system onboard the M/V Koryu, a combination carrier operated by Nippon Marine – a member of SENKO group (shares held by SENKO 60%, JX Nippon Mining & Metals 40%).

BHP and PPC have multi-year agreements for delivery of copper concentrates from Chile to Japan as well as sulphuric acid from Japan to Chile, making the cargo capacity utilisation of M/V Koryu (a 53,762 deadweight tonne combination carrier) one of the highest in the industry.

Norsepower’s Rotor Sails installation – a “push-button wind propulsion” system estimated to be around ten times more efficient than a conventional sail that requires no reefing or crew attention when in operation – is scheduled for completion by the September quarter of 2023, which is expected to make M/V Koryu the cleanest vessel in its category when measured for greenhouse gas emissions intensity, BHP says.

Norsepower’s Rotor Sails are modernised versions of Flettner rotors, and the technology is based on the Magnus effect that harnesses wind to maximise ship fuel efficiency. When wind conditions are favourable, Rotor Sails allow the main engines to be throttled back, saving fuel and reducing emissions, while also reducing power needed to maintain speed and voyage time, according to BHP.

BHP Chief Commercial Officer, Vandita Pant, said: “Identifying and implementing innovative and sustainable solutions through our strong commodity and supply chain partnerships remain essential in supporting BHP’s decarbonisation ambitions. We look forward to working with PPC on the wind-assisted propulsion system to enable further GHG emissions reduction in our supply chain and add to the already strong partnership between BHP and PPC.”

JX Nippon Mining & Metals Deputy Chief Executive Officer/PPC President, Kazuhiro Hori, said: “PPC and BHP have been sharing the mission to accelerate the activities for decarbonisation in line with our respective climate targets and goals. The Koryu project is a good example of our collaboration and valuable step that proves eagerness by both companies to establish ecosystem partnerships to take on the climate challenge. We are looking forward to further developing the partnership with BHP in various areas.”

Norsepower CSO, Jukka Kuuskoski, said: “Our vision is to set the standard in bringing sailing back to shipping, and empower the maritime industry towards reaching the goal of zero carbon emissions. As fuel prices increase and a carbon levy is initiated, investing in technologies which have proven emissions reductions and fuel savings is essential for long-term commercial success. Working with BHP, PPC and Nippon Marine demonstrates the increased commitment to greener operations, particularly within the bulk carrier market. We look forward to completing the installation and seeing the results.”

This latest partnership with PPC and Norsepower follows BHP’s collaboration agreements in the maritime decarbonisation segment that includes the first marine biofuel trial involving an ocean-going vessel bunkered in Singapore, taking delivery of the first of five LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carriers and joining a consortium to assess the development of an iron ore Green Corridor between Australia and East Asia. BHP is also a founding member of the Global Maritime Decarbonisation Centre in Singapore.

Newmont’s Gosteva urges action to achieve mining industry’s decarbonisation goals

Partnerships between miners and mining equipment, technology and service (METS) providers will prove key in solving the emissions reductions and sustainability targets mining companies have set for 2030 and beyond, Victoria Gosteva, Decarbonisation Program Manager at Newmont, said at the SME MineXchange Annual Conference & Expo in Salt Lake City today.

While outlining Newmont’s Energy & Decarbonization Program on stage, Gosteva made important statements about how the wider industry could decarbonise its operations and hit the goals it has set. Newmont, itself, has set a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 30% by 2030, with an ultimate goal of being net zero carbon by 2050.

Gosteva, urging actions over the near term, said partnerships with the METS community would be needed to set the companies on the right track to hit their sustainability goals, explaining that it was not only the technology-readiness element that needed to be addressed, but also the required infrastructure to, for example, charge electric vehicles.

“We can no longer afford to be fast followers as an industry,” she said. “There is really not that much time left to reach the 2030 targets.”

She said the investment community was also taking note of the need to decarbonise mine sites, with emissions likely to become a big contributor of company valuation metrics in the future.

Focusing on Newmont’s journey, in particular, she highlighted the $500 million the company committed over five years toward climate change initiatives back in 2020.

In addition to a number of PPA agreements looking to decarbonise the power grid of many of its remote mines, she also highlighted the 2021 signing of a strategic alliance with Caterpillar Inc to deliver a fully connected, automated, zero carbon emitting, end-to-end mining system, as well as a number of “energy efficiency” type of projects related to automation, data analytics and other projects that came under these initiatives.

Many of these projects were being helped by an enhanced investment system and process that incorporates and addresses emissions through an embedded carbon pricing mechanism. Gosteva said adding an emission calculator into these models where every project has an emission aspect in the investment review saw many of these projects develop a solid business case.

One project that has been helped by this is the strategic alliance with Caterpillar that will see the introduction of first-of-a-kind battery-electric haulage technology and automation at the gold miner’s Cripple Creek and Victor (CC&V) and Tanami mines in the USA and Australia, respectively.

Under the agreement, Newmont plans to provide a preliminary investment of $100 million as the companies set initial automation and electrification goals for surface and underground mining infrastructures and haulage fleets at Newmont’s CC&V mine in Colorado, USA, and Tanami mine in Northern Territory, Australia. The goals include:

  • Introduction of an automated haulage fleet of up to 16 vehicles at CC&V planned through 2023, with a transition to haulage fleet electrification and implementation of Caterpillar’s advanced electrification and infrastructure system with delivery of a test fleet in 2026. Actions include validating first-of-a-kind battery-electric haulage technology in the years prior to full production of autonomous electric haulage equipment;
  • Caterpillar will develop its first battery electric zero-emissions underground truck to be deployed at Tanami by 2026. The deployment includes a fleet of up to 10 battery-electric underground haul trucks, supported by Caterpillar’s advanced electrification and infrastructure system. This includes first-of-a-kind battery electric haulage technology for underground mining in 2024, the introduction of battery autonomous technology in 2025, with full deployment in 2026.

Gosteva highlighted that this project – which would also see the companies work on re-using batteries for energy storage when they hit their end of life in mobile mining applications – was very important to the company achieving its goals, but acknowledged that there was no silver bullet to achieving its targets.

Fortescue issues ‘industry-leading’ Scope 3 emissions targets

Fortescue Metals Group has announced what it says is an industry-leading target to achieve net zero Scope 3 emissions by 2040, addressing emissions across Fortescue’s entire global value chain, including crude steel manufacturing which accounts for 98% of the company’s Scope 3 emissions.

Fortescue’s approach to reducing Scope 3 emissions is to develop projects and technologies with a focus on reducing emissions from iron and steel making and to work with current and prospective customers on the application of the technology and the supply of green hydrogen and ammonia from Fortescue Future Industries (FFI). Fortescue will also prioritise the decarbonisation of its own fleet of eight ore carriers and engage with shipping partners to reduce, and aiming to eliminate, emissions from shipping.

FFI is targeting the production of 15 Mt of green hydrogen annually by 2030, which will underpin opportunities to work with customers and shipping partners on emissions reduction and elimination projects.

In addition to the long-term goal to achieve net zero Scope 3 emissions by 2040, the following medium-term targets have been set:

  • Enable a reduction in emissions intensity levels from the shipping of Fortescue’s ores by 50% by 2030 from financial year (FY) 2021 levels; and
  • Enable a reduction in emissions intensity levels from steel making by Fortescue’s customers of 7.5% by 2030 from FY21 levels, to 100% by 2040.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Climate change is the most pressing issue of our generation and at Fortescue, setting stretch targets is at the core of our culture and values and we are proud to set this goal to tackle emissions across our value chain.

“Fortescue has commenced its transition from a pure play iron ore producer to a green renewables and resources company, underpinned by the world’s first major carbon emission heavy industry operation to set a target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. This Scope 3 target is consistent with this transition and complements our targets for Scope 1 and 2 emissions reduction.

“Collaboration is integral to driving the rapid transition to green energy, and we remain committed to actively engaging with our customers, suppliers and other key industry participants to facilitate the reduction of emissions. This includes the development of technologies and the supply of green hydrogen and ammonia through FFI, which will provide significant opportunities for the steel, cement and land and sea transport industries to decarbonise.”

To achieve the target, Fortescue and FFI are focused on accelerating a number of key initiatives:

  • Conversion of existing maritime vessels, including Fortescue’s fleet of ore carriers, to be fuelled by green ammonia;
  • Supporting the adoption of green ammonia in new vessel construction;
  • Pursuing opportunities for emissions reduction and elimination in iron and steel making, facilitated by the use of renewable energy and green hydrogen; and
  • Research and development work to produce green iron and cement from Fortescue ores at low temperatures without coal.

FFI Chief Executive Officer, Julie Shuttleworth, said: “Our investments in technologies and research and development are focused on demonstrating that the production of iron ore, cement, iron and steel can operate with renewable energy.

“Our work to decarbonise Fortescue’s iron ore operations will position Fortescue as the first major supplier of green iron ore in the world, paving the way for production of green iron and a new green steel industry.”