Copper producer BHP Billiton has collaborated with U.S. copper cable and wire manufacturer Southwire to pilot a study on carbon traceability in the supply chain. Using blockchain technology, the two companies traced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from BHP’s copper production operations in Chile to Southwire’s copper rod production in Carrollton, Georgia, in the U.S.
Together, the two companies were able to produce a carbon neutral copper cathode while furthering understanding of GHG emissions in the copper value chain. Committed to sustainable operations, the pilot also enhanced the companies’ own work on GHG emission reduction.
“This is our first ever ‘carbon neutral’ sale of any of our commodities. The pilot helps improve understanding of greenhouse gas emissions in the copper value chain and demonstrate the role high-quality offsets can play, as a complement to operational decarbonization.” – Michael Hovers, Group Sales and Marketing Officer, BHP
Tracing Emissions with Blockchain Technology
The pilot study began with a memorandum of understanding signed on 1 March 2021. The initial shipment of copper from BHP to Southwire was sent in the second quarter of 2021. Both companies worked with Circulor, a London-headquartered supply chain traceability provider, to provide transparency throughout the process by using blockchain technology, which creates an unchangeable ledger of records linked together through cryptography.
“We are delighted to be supporting leading companies like BHP and Southwire with our market-leading technology to create and underpin carbon neutral products in the copper mining and manufacturing industries. This initiative reflects both the increasing emphasis placed on sustainability and the important role that technology can play in improving carbon traceability in supply chains.” – Douglas Johnson-Poensgen, Circulor CEO and Founder
For the traceability pilot, both companies offset GHG emissions generated from the production. BHP leveraged its carbon offsetting capabilities to offer a carbon neutral copper product during its transition period to operational decarbonization. BHP used the carbon offsets against GHG emissions that were generated from the copper’s production, transportation and processing at Southwire’s facilities. The carbon offsets were sourced from a project in Peru, where BHP is working to conserve biodiversity, improve water quality and provide additional support for local communities.
The collaboration will continue with a second shipment of copper in the fourth quarter of 2021. Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2021, the project expanded to include Southwire’s manufacturing operations and a second shipment of carbon neutral copper.
“As Southwire explores the potential of low-carbon wire and cable products, we are pleased to work with key leaders in our supply chain to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across our value chain. We look forward to continuing to generate a broader impact on carbon reduction by collaborating with like-minded companies such as BHP.” – Burt Fealing, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Sustainability Officer, Southwire
Carbon Neutral Operations and BHP’s Climate Transition Action Plan
The carbon neutral copper cathode is an example of BHP’s Climate Transition Action Plan in action. BHP aims to reach carbon neutral operations by 2050. The Climate Transition Action Plan builds on these commitments, focusing on achieving target climate performance standards, pursuing the goal of net-zero Scope 3 emissions by 2050, aligning capital with its strategy and action on climate change, ensuring a just transition, and continuing BHP’s climate policy principles.
As part of this plan, BHP will target net-zero operational GHG emissions by 2050 for its direct suppliers (Scope 1 and 2 emissions). BHP has also set a target to reach net-zero emissions for all shipping of BHP products by 2050. The company will continue to partner with customers and other downstream providers by pursuing carbon neutral copper products, such as the carbon neutral cathode partnership with Southwire, to support a further reduction in emissions (Scope 3 emissions).
BHP is working to address Scope 3 emissions, which are generated through product use in the value chain, for its copper products through traceability pilots like the Southwire partnership and is encouraging market placement for low emissions metals. It is also working to validate its responsible production credentials and develop lifecycle assessment studies to provide customers with greater transparency and traceability of its products. The carbon neutral copper cathode is an important step in achieving BHP’s decarbonization goals.
“The Climate Transition Action Plan outlines BHP’s role and actions in helping the world achieve its decarbonization ambitions, our strategic approach to reducing operational emissions to net zero by 2050, and how we will work with customers and suppliers to support their own reductions to progress towards the long-term goal of net-zero in our value chain. Our aim is to position BHP to thrive in a low-carbon world by minimizing emissions from existing products while providing the commodities the world needs to achieve a net-zero future. We are committed to playing our part through meaningful action in our value chain, continued support for low-carbon technology solutions and advocating for policy outcomes that enhance the global response to climate change.” – Mike Henry, Chief Executive Officer, BHP
About BHP Billiton
BHP Billiton is one of the world’s leading resource companies. For more than 130 years, it has been supplying the resources that underpin economic growth and improve standards of living globally. BHP understands the impact that it has on climate change and is committed to creating a brighter future for the decades to come.
About the International Copper Association
The International Copper Association (ICA) brings together the global copper industry to develop and defend markets for copper and make a positive contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., ICA has offices in three primary regions: Asia, Europe and North America. ICA and its Copper Alliance® partners are active in more than 60 countries worldwide.