JX Nippon Mining and Metals Corporation implemented a multi-step process for its copper operations to enable its carbon reduction goals. Through its “Sustainable Copper Vision,” the International Copper Association (ICA) member has developed a plan to reach its target of reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieving net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
The Sustainable Copper Vision involves four key strategies: 1) reducing carbon footprint, 2) increasing recycling ratios, 3) promoting responsible procurement and ESG initiatives, and 4) forming green partnerships. JX Nippon is already acting to implement its sustainability vision at its domestic Japanese operations and abroad through its green energy enterprises.
“The year 2050 may sound far away. And it is true that many initiatives must wait for technological progress and infrastructure development. Nevertheless, we are determined to face the issues of climate change and decarbonization head on. We will accelerate our activities toward net zero emissions through the steps we can take at present, while also adopting and creating new technologies.” —Suwabe Takeshi, Executive Officer, General Manager of the ESG Promotion
Department and General Manager of the Planning and Coordination Department, JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corporation
Introducing Carbon-Free Electricity at Operation Sites
JX Nippon is reducing its Scope 1 and 2 emissions through its Carbon Free Project, a program with more than 60 members working to innovate new strategies to reach net zero. With 80 percent of existing CO2 emissions at the company derived from energy us, JX Nippon is adopting carbon-free electric power, increasing renewable energy generation, reducing energy consumption, and optimizing fuel switching and energy intensive processes.
The company has introduced carbon-free electricity from renewable and atomic power sources to its business operations and offices. In January 2021, the Caserones Copper Mine in the Atacama region of Chile, which accounts for 20 percent of the group’s electricity consumption, converted to 100 percent carbon-free electricity. The switch to carbon-free electricity is also proceeding at the Isohara Works, Hitachi Works, Tatebayashi Works, Kurami Works, the Tsurga Plant and the Saganoseki Smelter and Refinery.
Reducing Carbon Footprint through Renewable Energy Generation
JX Nippon is investing in its own renewable energy generation by leveraging power purchase agreements to generate clean electricity onsite at its facilities. The company will develop renewable energy power plants and use these systems to power its other facilities through a power transmission and distribution network. JX Nippon has several renewable energy facilities in place, including: the Kakinosawa Power Plant, which produces hydroelectric power; Shimoda Hot Springs, which produces binary geothermal power; and Kagegawa Works and Nikko Metals Taiwan, which produce solar power. The company looks to explore alternative fuel sources, such as ammonia and hydrogen, for its operations.
JX Nippon’s innovations in clean energy production have led to the development of its “Green Hybrid Smelting” process at its Saganoseki Smelter and Refinery. The smelter uses both copper ore and copper scrap as raw materials, but it employs the self-generated heat from the copper ore to melt the recycled raw materials using a flash smelting furnace method. Copper concentrate and oxygen-enriched air are added to the furnace, and the heat from the oxidation of the sulfur in the copper concentrate separates the copper from other impurities. This process requires very little external heating, creating high-quality refined copper with almost no energy consumption. JX Nippon uses the heat generated from the oxidation process to further smelt recycled materials alongside the copper concentrate. This innovative use of thermal oxidation in the smelting process makes the use of fossil fuels almost completely unnecessary at the operation. The company is working to increase the amount of recycled material processed at its smelter from 12 percent to 50 percent by 2040. Additionally, JX Nippon is the first Japanese company to apply for accreditation through The Copper Mark®, an independent assurance framework for responsible production practices, for its operations at the Saganoseki Smelter and Refinery and Hitachi Refinery.
Investing in Sustainable Operations
JX Nippon leads the way for the Japanese copper industry through its investment in a transition-linked loan (TLL), the first Japanese company in the nonferrous metals industry to do so. A TLL is a type of loan that supports companies in their transition away from the use of carbon by establishing performance targets for sustainability. These loans encourage sustainable operations by linking progress toward the agreed sustainability targets with the loan’s interest rates.
JX Nippon has not only made public decarbonization commitments, but it has directly linked these commitments to its company’s funding. JX Nippon’s TLL establishes two sustainability performance targets as a condition of the loan: 1) reduce and maintain CO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and 2) increase the ratio of recycled raw materials to 25 percent by 2030. The Japan Credit Rating Agency certified that JX Nippon’s TLL framework complies with the Basic Guidelines on Climate Transition Finance, as was formulated by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; the Ministry of the Environment; and the Financial Services Agency. By implementing its Sustainable Copper Vision, JX Nippon will continue to implement green technologies and clean energy at its operations to help meet these sustainability targets and reach its decarbonization goals.
About JX Nippon Mining and Metals
A technology-based company, JX Nippon Mining and Metals conducts global business operations in multiple fields, ranging from resource development, smelting and refining to manufacturing and sales of electronic materials to recycling end-of-life equipment. The company is committed to leveraging its technologies and expertise to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through its Sustainable Copper Vision. Headquartered in Minato City, Japan, JX Mining and Metals maintains 33 operations throughout Japan and an additional 38 sites globally.
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.