The urgency around the climate challenge has intensified remarkably over the past 24 months. Some stakeholders feared the arrival of a global pandemic would be used as an excuse by business to focus on traditional bottom-line metrics and put their green goals on ice, but the opposite has been true.
The pressure on industry has been relentless, while the intent from mining corporates has been as admirable as it has been necessary. COVID-19 has given business and society at large the opportunity to reset and ‘build back better', with sustainability in general - but climate change specifically - sitting squarely at the centre of policy debate. Leading miners have responded with emissions targets in line - or often more ambitious than - their host nations.
But targets and good intentions, as important as they are, will not make mining a carbon-neutral industry. There must be a material change in the way we mine the minerals that are central to the energy transition. That requires new technology and techniques, some of which are already being used by industry leaders - electric vehicles and renewable-energy solutions, for examples - while others will need to be dreamt up and commercialised from an almost standing start.
At the heart of this transformation is collaboration. No miner can achieve such a metamorphosis in isolation and, indeed, no industry can address the challenge across the full value chain, as is needed, without support from its suppliers and customers.
With this in mind, Mining Journal teamed up with Shell and IBM in May to run two industry roundtables with some 30 executives from major mining groups, service companies, industry associations, government and consultancies based across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.
The goal was to define the scope of the decarbonisation initiative in the mining industry today; determine which levers should be pulled first in its response to the climate challenge; test the appetite for a collaborative effort; and understand the role digitalisation could play in mining's climate strategy.
The resulting whitepaper sets out the key challenges alongside the policy changes and approach to technology development necessary to decarbonise mining.