ICA Members at the Core of Climate-Smart Mining

Rio Tinto and Anglo American Join Groundbreaking World Bank Fund

Mining is one of the planet’s most resource-intensive industries, requiring vast amounts of water, energy and other natural raw materials. Yet copper is also critical to clean technology—from electric vehicles and batteries to wind turbines and solar panels—and elemental to a low-carbon future.

The race to mitigate climate change poses a major challenge for the copper industry. According to World Bank officials, by 2050, the rate of extraction and production of minerals must double to sustain current renewable energy requirements. Extracting minerals rapidly, while abating climate change and creating prosperity for host nations and populations, is more important than ever.

On 1 May 2019, International Copper Association (ICA) members Rio Tinto and Anglo American joined the government of the Federal Republic of Germany to become the founding donors of Climate-Smart Mining Facilityof the World Bank, the first fund to support an international expansion of sustainable mining. The mining sector represents 11 percent of global energy use and the Facility will support clean technology use at mines worldwide. Aligned with all UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Facility will assist developing nations hosting metal and mineral reserves that are critical to electricity and the renewable energy transition.

Foundations for Climate Smart Copper

The Climate-Smart Mining initiative follows the publication in 2017 of a World Bank report, The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals in a Low-Carbon Future, which analyzes the role mining plays in a low-carbon energy future. It finds that demand for metals and minerals—including copper, lithium, graphite and nickel—will soar by 2050. Meanwhile, updated 2018 World Bank forecasts indicate this pressure will continue to grow for countries committed to the COP 21 Paris Agreement to keep global carbon emissions beneath a 2° Celsius increase.

The World Bank invested $2 million to establish Climate-Smart Mining and in May 2019, Anglo and Rio committed $1 million each, becoming the first corporate donors of the fund.

The Facility seeks to raise $50 million from the private sector and will deploy its financing over five years to promote the sustainable extraction of minerals and processing of metals. It will work in collaboration with governments, operators and other stakeholders in frontier and emerging market nations. World Bank officials have said they hope automakers and governments—and other miners—will join the initiative.

The World Bank supports a low-carbon transition where mining is climate-smart and value chains are sustainable and green. Developing countries can play a leading role in this transition.”

– Riccardo Puliti, Head of Energy and Extractives Practice, World Bank

The Facility will assist governments to create strong legal frameworks, policies and regulations to promote sustainable mining and economic growth. It will offer technical advisory support and address the needs of at-risk communities and ecosystems. Climate-Smart Mining will connect researchers from academic institutions with officials from government and private sector organizations to foster the dissemination of information about issues in sustainable mining. It will focus on methods to incorporate clean energy into mining projects, recycle metals and minerals, limit deforestation and utilize geological data.

With their extraction, processing and associated facilities worldwide, Anglo and Rio bring wide-ranging, technical expertise to the initiative.

Anglo’s Smart Energy Angle in Chile

In July, Anglo announced that all of its operations will be powered by renewable energy in approximately two years at its flagship Los Bronces mine as well as its El Soldado and Chagres projects in Chile. In March 2019, Anglo fitted a floating island of solar panels on a tailings pond at the Los Bronces mine to bolster efficiencies at the complex 65 miles (104 km) from Santiago.

With these changes, Anglo will be on track to reduce its total carbon emissions by an estimated 70 percent in Chile.

Mining cannot continue its long path of simply scaling up to supply what the world needs. We need to do things in dramatically different ways if we are to transform our footprint and be valued by all our stakeholders. Our first responsibility is to reduce our energy and water usage and our emissions.”

– Mark Cutifani, Anglo American CEO

Rio Tinto Kennecott and Climate-Smart Copper

In May, Rio announced that its Kennecott project in Utah will shutter its last existing coal-fired power plant and transition to wind-based power. The change will make the project 100 percent-clean energy driven, slashing its footprint by one million tonnes of carbon dioxide. In all, this move puts the miner on track to meet its 2020 target to reduce carbon emissions intensity by at least 24 percent against a 2008 baseline.

Climate-Smart Mining will encourage developing nations to reuse metals and minerals in an environmentally holistic manner. When it comes to recycling copper, Rio Tinto is ideally poised to offer strategic advice given the output from its highly prolific Kennecott facilities.

Beginning in 2012, Rio Tinto Kennecott started introducing recycled scrap metals, like old copper wiring, into its smelting processes. Now the mine satisfies 15 percent of U.S. copper demand through mined ore and recycling. In 2017, in particular, Kennecott processed 1270 metric tonnes (2.8 million pounds) of copper from recycled scrap, a volume that could yield electrical copper wiring sufficient to fill 6,400 newly constructed homes.

We want to be part of the solution on climate change and the best solutions will come from innovative partnerships across competitors, governments and institutions. We look forward to supporting the Climate-Smart Mining Facility by contributing not just funding but also expertise as a leader in sustainable mining.”

– Jean-Sebastien Jacques, Rio Tinto CEO

Anglo’s “Forest Smart” Mining in Finland

Metals and minerals often exist in and near forests worldwide and Climate-Smart Mining will prioritize work to protect this valuable ecosystem. The initiative will endeavor to halt deforestation while encouraging sustainable land use and reclamation of abandoned mines.

Anglo has led important innovations in its approach to environmental protection at its Sakatti project, a large copper-nickel-platinum discovery located 150 km (93 miles) north of Finland’s Arctic Circle. All drilling at Sakatti takes place in environmentally sensitive areas. Anglo conducts the drilling during winter months—under close supervision by Finnish regulators—to limit impacts. Experts at Anglo contracted a local company to utilize a closed drilling system to minimize waste discharge and water use.

World Bank researchers cite Anglo as a leader in environmentally sound techniques for its work at Sakatti in the 2019 report, Making Mining Forest Smart. Anglo officials draw on consultations with a strong network of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders to minimize their effects on the local ecosystem. The World Bank report notes Anglo’s extensive partnership with top NGO Flora and Fauna International assists the company in strengthening its biodiversity management on and around the asset.

Rio Tinto’s Techniques for Mapping Copper

Climate-Smart Mining will support the use of geological data to locate minerals, and Rio has developed critical expertise in cutting-edge techniques. In July, Rio subsidiary Rio Tinto Exploration Canada Inc. began a high-tech airborne survey over northern Saskatchewan’s Wollaston Copperbelt, to identify copper deposits.

Working with a geophysical contractor, Rio used a helicopter-mounted magnet to survey for high-resolution information. This assessment helped to identify high-grade copper layers of sediment to guide drilling at Janice Lake, a copper deposit site in the region.

Society’s expectations of mining have increased and this has now extended into the investment community in an even greater way …. What we are experiencing now is qualitatively different.”

– Arnaud Soirat, Head of Copper and Diamonds, Rio Tinto

With pioneering sustainability practices at their copper mines, facilities and other assets—all pillars of the SDGs—Rio Tinto and Anglo American offer outstanding examples for Climate-Smart Mining. Their funding and leadership have helped set into motion the critical work of this initiative. These ICA members are blazing a trail for other miners to follow in tackling one of the most crucial challenges of our time.

About Anglo American

Anglo American Plc is a diversified multinational mining firm based in London and Johannesburg, South Africa, and is a major copper producer with four red metal mines in Chile. One of the world’s largest miners, it has 69,000 employees and was founded in 1917.

About Rio Tinto

Since its founding in 1873, Rio Tinto Plc has become one of the world’s leading diversified mining multinationals. With headquarters in Melbourne and London, it has 50,000 employees and red metal operations across Australia, Mongolia, Chile, the U.S. and Indonesia.

About the World Bank

The World Bank, part of the World Bank Group, is a global international financial institution headquartered in Washington, D.C., which gives loans to nations pursuing capital projects. In addition to climate mitigation, the Bank’s other focuses include energy access, food security, poverty reduction and other shared prosperity. As of last year, the largest recipients of World Bank loans, spanning a portfolio of 1,200 projects, included India and China.

About Los Bronces

Over 50 percent Anglo American-owned, the Los Bronces copper mine is 20 percent owned by Mitsubishi, and also controlled by Chile’s state-owned Codelco and joint venture (JV) partner Mitsui. Both hold the remaining 29.5 percent stake for the asset, which lies 3,500 meters (2.2 miles) over sea level.

About Rio Tinto Kennecott

Rio Tinto Kennecott is a fully integrated mining operation just outside Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., and a fully owned unit of Rio Tinto. For more than 110 years, Kennecott has been mining and processing minerals from the rich ore body of the Bingham Canyon Mine. In addition to Bingham Canyon, the subsidiary possesses other facilities at South Jordan in the Salt Lake Valley.

About The Copper Alliance®

The Copper Alliance is a network of regional copper centers and their industry-leading members. It is responsible for guiding policy and strategy and for funding international initiatives and promotional activities. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the organization has offices in three primary regions: Europe, Asia and North America. The Copper Alliance has partnerships and programs in more than 100 countries.

29 February 2020

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Mining has changed. Check out the infographic below to learn more about global and local mining initiatives from ICA members.