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Miners urged to look beyond only carbon offsetting measures in net-zero journey

A generic image of a mining operation in Chile

Photo by Bloomberg

12th November 2021

By: Donna Slater

Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

     

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As mining companies look to lower their carbon intensity, low-carbon-economy software developer Minviro sustainability manager Laurens Tijsseling encourages miners to not rely solely on carbon offsetting techniques, but instead employ a range of measures.

Speaking at the Energy and Mines Virtual World Congress on November 10, he said carbon offsets should only be used when companies have exhausted all other methods of lowering carbon.

“Investors are really understanding that,” added Tijsseling.

As a first step in their ambitions to lower carbon and meet future net-zero targets, he explained that mining companies firstly need to understand where their emissions come from and then undertake the appropriate measures to reduce those areas of generation, such as replacing fossil-fuel burning machinery with those that instead use hydrogen or green electricity.

“The last resource you can use is planting trees or broader offset projects,” said Tijsseling.

In addition, he described the carbon offset market as the “wild west” at present as companies race to invest in such measures fearing that, in a few years’ time, they could be paying much more to decarbonise the same amount they were doing this year.

This, Tijsseling said, meant that, for an investor, the inherent risk of that potential price of the carbon offset on the overall return on their investment could be much larger if emissions generation impacts were not mitigated initially.

Nonetheless, he said carbon offsetting had a place in the mining industry, especially for those who have already taken significant steps to lower their carbon. “In the end, we are not going to be able to escape from offsets, because there are some technologies which are not yet as mature, for example carbon capture, and depending on where it is being used.”

In this regard, Tijsseling said, carbon offsets would be crucial in getting to net zero, or potentially to a point where the mining industry was carbon negative. “Depending what happens in the next decade, we might even go further than net zero, and then [carbon] offsets will be the answer.”

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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