Tag Archives: GHGs

Teck Resources intensifies carbon cutting strategies

Teck Resources has announced a target to reduce its carbon intensity by 33% by 2030 as part of its new sustainability strategy and goals.

This news builds on Teck’s previously announced commitment to be carbon neutral across all its operations and activities by 2050. It also follows the company announcing it was withdrawing the regulatory application for the Frontier oil sands project in Alberta, Canada.

Don Lindsay, President and CEO, said: “At Teck, we are always challenging ourselves to improve sustainability performance, so we can be sure we are providing the mining products needed for a cleaner future in the most responsible way possible.

“We have set ambitious new goals for carbon reduction, water stewardship, health and safety, and other areas because we believe that a better world is made possible through better mining.”

Teck’s sustainability strategy has been updated with new long-term strategic priorities, supported by short-term milestone goals. Highlights include:

  • Be a carbon neutral operator by 2050;
  • Reduce the carbon intensity of its operations by 33% by 2030;
  • Procure 50% of electricity demands in Chile from clean energy by 2020 and 100% by 2030;
  • Accelerate the adoption of zero-emissions alternatives for transportation by displacing the equivalent of 1,000 internal combustion engine vehicles by 2025 (a topic IM heard much about at the recent SME MineXchange Annual Conference and Expo);
  • Transition to seawater or low-quality water sources for all operations in water-scarce regions by 2040;
  • Implement innovative water management and water treatment solutions to protect water quality downstream of all our operations;
  • Preferentially consider milling and tailings technologies that use less water for both new mines and any mine life extensions at existing mines;
  • Work towards disposing zero industrial waste by 2040;
  • By 2025, develop and implement a responsible producer program and “product passport” that is traceable through the value chain;
  • By 2025, all operating sites would have and implement plans to secure a net-positive impact on biodiversity;
  • Eliminate fatalities, serious injuries and occupational disease;
  • Increase the percentage of women working at Teck, including women in leadership positions, and advance inclusion and diversity initiatives across the company by 2025; and
  • Achieve greater representation of Indigenous Peoples across the business by 2025 by increasing employment and procurement through business development, capacity-building, education and training opportunities.

In releasing its 2019 Sustainability Report today, Teck showed it had reduced its annual greenhouse gas emissions by 297,000 t of CO2 equivalent since 2011. This is the equivalent of taking 90,500 cars off the road.

Rio aims for ‘net zero emissions’ from operations by 2050

Rio Tinto has announced plans to invest around $1 billion over the next five years to support the delivery of its new climate change targets and a company objective for net zero emissions from operations by 2050.

The new targets for 2030 are a further 30% reduction in Rio Tinto’s emissions intensity from 2018 levels, and a further 15% reduction in Rio Tinto’s absolute emissions from 2018 levels.

Under these targets, Rio Tinto’s overall growth between now and 2030 will be carbon neutral, the company said.

Rio Tinto Chief Executive, J-S Jacques, said: “Climate change is a global challenge and will require action across nations, across industries and by society at large. New technologies, partnerships and effective government policies will be key in achieving this goal but today there is no clear pathway for the world to get to net zero emissions by 2050.”

Jacques said while the ambition “is clear”, the “pathway is not” and the challenge for both the world and the resources industry is “to continue the focus on poverty reduction and wealth creation, while delivering climate action”.

He added: “This will require complex trade-offs which means we all need to face up to some challenging decisions and have an honest conversation.”

Jacques concluded: “For Rio Tinto, it is about setting a long-term ambition and establishing stretching, but achievable targets, like we have done for 2030 and 2050. We are fully committed to meeting that challenge and being part of the solution.”

Rio Tinto’s second climate report, published today and guided by the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, sets out how Rio Tinto plans to achieve its ambition of net-zero emissions by 2050 through action in four areas.

Produce materials essential for a low-carbon future

The production of aluminium, copper and high-grade iron ore will play a part in the transition to a low carbon economy.

Reduce the carbon footprint of operations

Rio Tinto is taking steps to enhance productivity and efficiency, as well as exploring alternative sources of energy and developing pathways to reduce emissions. In February, Rio announced a $100 million investment in a new solar plant at the Koodaideri mine in the Pilbara, Australia, as well as a lithium-ion battery energy storage system to help power its entire Pilbara power network.

Partner to reduce the carbon footprint across the value chain

Climate change will only be solved through collective action by government, business and consumers across the globe, according to Rio. The company says it is working on innovative partnerships to stimulate action with customers and other parties across the value chain.

In September 2019, Rio Tinto launched an initiative in the steel industry, partnering with China Baowu Steel Group and Tsinghua University to develop solutions to help address the steel industry’s carbon footprint and improve environmental performance.

In 2018, Rio announced a new technology partnership with Alcoa, with support from Apple and the governments of Canada and Quebec, to further develop ELYSIS carbon-free aluminium smelting technology.

Enhance resilience to physical climate risks

Rio Tinto says it considers climate-related risks over the life of its operations from design to closure and beyond. The impact of extreme weather events is already being seen at many sites and work is underway to assess the probability and potential impact of these risks in the future. Seventy-six per cent of electricity consumption at managed operations is from renewable energy and most of the operations have significantly lower carbon intensities than sector averages.

Rio said: “Rio Tinto’s new 2030 climate targets are linked to executive remuneration. The Chief Executive’s Short Term Incentive Plan includes delivery of the group’s strategy on climate consistent with the new targets. These are cascaded down to relevant members of the Executive Committee and other members of senior management.”

Vale looks to smart meters for power cost, GHG emission reductions

To reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions, Vale is investing BRL20 million ($4.9 million) into the implementation of a smart energy management system to improve equipment performance and process automation across its production chain – from mine to port.

The system, known as SmartEnergy, should lead to the installation, by 2021, of 2,000 intelligent electric power meters at 57 of the company’s operating units and large equipment in Brazil – for example, in ore grinding circuits, long-distance conveyor belt systems and pumping systems.

The smart meters reduce production losses through continuous evaluation of the quality of power and identification of the causes of failures in power supply. Tests using this technology in two mines have saved BRL90 million per year, according to Vale, eliminating equipment shutdowns due to incorrect activation of the “electrical protective system”.

According to Vale’s Energy Efficiency Project Coordinator, Renato Arantes, smart meters can accurately detect voltage and electric current variations. These meters also register the power consumption and submit data to SmartEnergy, which enables interactions with several enterprise systems, including management of energy efficiency programs, among other functions.

Arantes said: “Often, the electrical protective system shuts down important equipment or processes due to electric power fluctuations that could be tolerated without adding any risks to operations. These small interruptions affect productivity as energy is wasted in restarting the equipment and processes as well as resuming normal operating capacity, not to mention the impact on production and increased CO2 emissions.”

SmartEnergy IT Coordinator, Laysa Mello, explained that the system will standardise the data generated by smart meters to analyse the energy use across the company.

“This standardisation enables better planning of energy consumption and demand in all operations, offering unprecedentedly higher data availability and accuracy,” she said. Although it is an off-the-shelf software already available on the market, SmartEnergy had to be customised for Vale’s needs, the company said. A team of 65 employees was trained to operate the system already deployed in mines in Pará and Minas Gerais and at the Ponta da Madeira port complex, in São Luís (Maranhão).

In 2017, Vale tested the smart meters at the S11D iron ore mine (pictured) and the Salobo copper mine, in southeastern Pará. Salobo saw a reduction of 107 hours of unexpected production shutdown caused by power quality issues, which translated into a production increase of 1.2 Mt/y compared with 2017 and 2018.

In the case of S11D, 18 hours of production shutdown were avoided at the plant, resulting in an increase of 130,000 t in annual production. By the end of 2019, more than 100 smart meters at S11D were connected to SmartEnergy, and, in 2020, Vale plans to deploy this equipment worldwide.

In an intermediate scenario over 10 years, the company expects to save BRL920 million worth of electric power through the installation of smart meters and process management automation in plants in Brazil and abroad. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 120,000 t/y, equivalent to the emissions – in terms of power consumption – of 14,400 average homes. Variables considered in this calculation included the cost of electric power; iron ore, nickel, and copper prices; and Vale’s own production.

In the long run, the project will also focus on reducing other fuels used by Vale, such as diesel, natural gas, and the bunker fuel used in ore carriers. “That brings an even greater potential to reduce emissions.”

At a December meeting with investors in New York and London, the company announced a long-term goal of neutralising CO2 emissions from its operations by 2050 and revised its emission reduction goal by 2030 to comply with the Paris Agreement. The percentage decrease will be announced in the first half of 2020.

ICMM looks to align mining industry on cleaner, safer vehicles

When the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) launched its Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) program just over a year ago, some industry participants may not have realised how much progress could be made so quickly by taking a collaborative approach.

The ICMM has proven influential across the mining industry since its foundation in 2002 in areas such as corporate and social governance, environmental responsibility, and stakeholder relations, yet it has rarely, until this point, engaged directly as an industry group with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and service providers.

Close to 12 months after being established, it’s clear to see the program and the council itself has been successful in bridging a divide.

It has been able to corral a significant portion of the mining and mining OEM market players into a major industry discussion on core focus areas set to dominate the sector for the next two decades.

Now 27 of the world’s leading mining companies and 16 of the best-known truck and mining equipment suppliers are collaborating in a non-competitive space “to accelerate the development of a new generation of mining vehicles that will make vehicles cleaner and safer,” the ICMM says.

The ICSV program was created to address three of the most critical safety, health and environment performance issues in the ICMM’s mission towards zero harm and decarbonisation. Achieving this goal would involve the industry introducing and adopting the next generation of equipment to respond to the challenges.

More specifically, the program aims to:

  • Introduce greenhouse gas emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040;
  • Minimise the operational impact of diesel exhaust by 2025; and
  • Make collision avoidance technology (capable of eliminating vehicle related collisions) available to mining companies by 2025.

In all three, it seeks to address the industry’s innovation challenge of ‘who motivates who’ or the chicken and egg analogy, according to Sarah Bell, Director, Health, Safety and Product Stewardship for the ICMM.

“You can imagine a mining company saying, ‘we can’t adopt technology that doesn’t yet exist’ or an OEM saying, ‘we can’t invest in development because we’re getting mixed market signals’. This is, of course, why this program has been set up in the way it has,” she told IM. “Bringing both the mining company and OEMs together, they have been able to work through these normal innovation challenges and align on defining the direction of travel and critical complexity to be solved for each of the ambitions set.”

High-level participation

The list of companies the ICMM has been able to involve in this program is impressive.

It is being guided by a CEO advisory group of six; three from the mining community – Andrew Mackenzie (CEO, BHP), Mark Cutifani (CEO, Anglo American) and Nick Holland (CEO, Gold Fields) – and three from the mining equipment supply side – Denise Johnson (Group President of Resource Industries at Caterpillar), Max Moriyama (President of the Mining Business Division at Komatsu) and Henrik Ager (President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology).

On the mining company front, ICMM membership makes up around 30% of the total metal market share, with some 46% in copper, 27% in gold and 42% in iron ore. Participating OEMs and third-party technology providers, meanwhile, include the three majors above, plus Cummins, Epiroc, Wabtec Corporation (formerly GE), Hexagon Mining, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Liebherr, MacLean Engineering, MTU, Modular Mining Systems, PBE Group, Nerospec, Future Digital Communication and Miller Technology.

Bell says the high-level participation builds the “widespread confidence” needed to accelerate investment in these three key areas”, while the ICMM’s focus on the leadership side of the technology integration equation and change management has proven “absolutely key”.

She clarified: “This collaboration operates under anti-competition and anti-trust rules. Our role is to convene the parties, motivate action and promote solutions.”

The program offers a “safe space for the OEMs and members to work openly in a non-competitive environment”, she added, explaining that the aim is not to come up with “preferred technologies”, but define the “functional and operational pathways required to meet the ambitions set”.

Vehicle interaction (VI)

Some of the ambitions look easier to achieve than others.

For instance, collision avoidance and proximity detection technology has made huge strides in the last decade, with the ICMM arguing its 2025 target is like a “sprint”, compared with the “10,000 m race” that is minimising DPM underground by 2025 and the longer-term aim to introduce GHG-free surface mining vehicles by 2040.

“There are regulations that require implementation of collision avoidance and proximity detection technology by the end of 2020 in South Africa,” Bell said. This will undoubtedly provide a catalyst for further developments to speed up.

The ICSV program is also leveraging the work of the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT) in its development of fundamental functional/performance requirements for operators and technology providers.

These requirements were updated and released by EMESRT in September and are known as ‘PR5A’.

Credit: Hexagon Mining

Bell delved into some detail about these requirements:

“The EMERST requirements are designed around a nine-level system that seeks to eliminate material unwanted scenarios such as – equipment to person, equipment to equipment, equipment to environment and loss of control,” she said.

“The fundamental change with this newly released set of functional requirements by EMESRT is that the mining industry users have defined the functional needs for levels 7-9 (operator awareness, advisory controls, and intervention controls). That stronger level of collaboration hasn’t necessarily been there.”

EMESRT and its guidelines have been given an expanded global platform through the ICMM’s ICSV, with the program, this year, providing the convening environment for users and technology providers to help finalise these updated requirements, according to Bell.

With all of this already in place, one could be forgiven for thinking the majority of the hard work involved with achieving the 2025 goal is done, but the working group focused on VI knows that while OEMs continue to retrofit third-party vehicle collision and avoidance systems to their machines the job is not complete.

“Let’s think about the seatbelt analogy: you don’t give buyers of vehicles a choice as to whether they want a seatbelt in their car; it just comes with the car,” Bell said.

“At the moment, by design, vehicles don’t always have this collision and avoidance systems built in, therefore there is a big opportunity for collaboration between OEMs and third-party technology providers.”

Underground DPM goals

“The DPM working group have recognised that, in the case of the DPM ambition, ‘the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed’,” Bell said.

“Bringing together the OEMs and the mining companies this year through the ICSV program has enabled the group to explore the variety of existing solutions out there today,” she added.

These existing solutions include higher-tier engines, battery-electric equipment, tethered electric machinery, fuel cell-equipped machines for narrow vein mining and solutions to remove DPMs and other emissions from the environment like Johnson Matthey’s CRT system.

And, there are numerous examples from North America – Newmont Goldcorp at Borden, and Glencore and Vale in Sudbury – South America – Codelco at El Teniente Underground – and Europe – Agnico Eagle Mines at Kittilä (Finland, pictured) – to draw from.

Bell also mentioned some examples from Australia where regulatory changes have seen miners apply existing technology and carry out changes in their work plans and maintenance practices to minimise DPM emissions.

Haulage and loading flexibility, battery charging and mine design have all come under the spotlight since these new generation of ‘green’ machines have emerged, so achieving the 2025 goal the ICSV stated is by no means a foregone conclusion.

“There remains more work to do in achieving diesel-free vehicles underground,” Bell said.

The interested parties are aware of this and the program’s DPM maturity framework is helping miners and OEMs plot a course to reaching the target, she explained.

“The DPM maturity framework promotes existing solutions available today that would enable a mining operation to reduce their DPM emissions to a level that would meet the ambition level (shown as Level 4 – transition to zero),” she said.

These frameworks are useful for starting a “change conversation”, Bell said, explaining that mining companies can assess within their organisations where they currently sit on the five-level chart and discuss internally how to move up the levels to meet their goals.

These same frameworks look beyond minimising “the operational impact” of DPM emissions underground, with Bell explaining that Level 5 of the maturity framework involves “non-DPM emitting vehicles”.

GHG-free surface mining vehicles

Even further in the distance is the longer-term target of introducing greenhouse gas emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040.

This ambition, more than any other, is less clearly defined in terms of technological solutions across the industry.

While battery-electric solutions look like having the goods to reach DPM-free status underground with expected developments in battery technology and charging, the jury is still out on if they can create a GHG-free large-scale open-pit mining environment.

The world’s largest battery-electric haul truck – eMining’s 63-t payload eDumper (pictured) – may have proven its worth at a Ciments Vigier-owned quarry in Switzerland, but the world’s largest open-pit mines require a solution on another scale altogether.

As Bell said: “There is a lot of work to do to develop batteries at scale for surface fleet that suit the different operating conditions.

“That’s a key point because that lends itself to the fact that we don’t want one solution; we will need multiple solutions. We don’t want to stifle innovation; we want to encourage it.”

ICMM member Anglo American has hinted that hydrogen power could be one solution, and the miner is looking to show this next year with the development of its hydrogen-powered 300-t payload haul truck.

There has also been in the last 18-24 months a mini renaissance of trolley assist projects that, ABB’s Gunnar Hammarström told IM recently, could, in the future, work in tandem with battery-powered solutions to provide a GHG-free solution.

The ability for industry to pilot and validate technology options like this “within the boundaries of anti-competition” is crucial for its later adoption in the industry, Bell said.

She said a key enabler of industry decarbonisation is access to cost competitive clean electricity, which would indicate that regions like South America and the Nordic countries could be of interest in the short and medium term for deploying pilot projects.

It is this goal where the industry R&D spend could potentially ramp up; something the ICMM and the ICSV is aware of.

“For the OEMs and mining companies to effectively minimise capital expenditure, optimise R&D expenditure and reduce the change management required by the industry, there needs to be a careful balance of encouraging innovation of solutions, whilst managing the number of plausible outcomes,” Bell said.

In terms of encouraging the development of these outcomes, carbon pricing mechanisms could provide some positive industry momentum. Vale recently acknowledged that it would apply an internal carbon tax/price of $50/t when analysing its future projects, so one would expect other companies to be factoring in such charges to their future mine developments.

Industry-wide GHG emission caps could also provide a catalyst. In countries such as Chile – where up to 80% of emissions can come from haul trucks, according to ICMM Senior Programme Officer, Verónica Martinez – carbon emission reduction legislation could really have an impact on technology developments.

Forward motion

While 2019 was a year when the three working groups – made up of close to 50 representatives in each work stream – outlined known barriers or opportunities that might either slow down or accelerate technology developments, 2020 will be the year that regional workshops convened to “encourage first adopters and fast followers” to move these three ambitions forward take place, Bell said.

A knowledge hub containing the previously spoken of maturity frameworks (delivered for all three groups) will allow the wider industry outside of the ICMM membership to gain a better understanding of how the miner-OEM-service provider collaboration is working.

Bell said the ICMM already has a number of members testing these group frameworks on an informal self-assessment basis to understand “how they are being received at an asset level and feedback insights to the group in an effort to understand how we may portray an industry representative picture of where we are today”.

Such strategies bode well for achieving these goals into the future and, potentially, changing the dynamic that has existed between end users and suppliers in the mining sector for decades.

Bell said: “The feedback that we got from OEMs is that mining companies had completely different objectives, but they have now greater confidence that we are aligned on the direction of travel towards the ambitions set.”