PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Diversified miner BHP’s Nickel West is hoping to exceed the company’s corporate medium-term target to reduce emissions by at least 30% by 2030, from the 2020 levels.
Speaking at the Paydirt Nickel conference, in Perth, BHP Nickel West Kalgoorlie nickel smelter GM Matthew Terry noted that over the last 18 months, BHP Nickel West had secured arrangements for sufficient renewable wind and solar energy to cover 100% of the power requirements of three of its major downstream operations in Western Australia, by 2024.
BHP and its power partner in the Goldfields TransAlta are also building two solar farms and a battery storage system to help power the Mt Keith and Leinster nickel operations, which will help BHP reduce emissions from electricity use at the two mines by 12%, based on 2020 levels.
Terry noted that a potential wind farm at the nickel mines is also under investigation.
“We aren't only focused on reducing our electricity emissions, we are also actively pursuing reductions in our Scope 1 emissions from diesel and natural gas consumption and looking at opportunities for carbon removal as well.
“The electrification of the mining fleets is a key decarbonisation requirement for our industry. We've started introducing electric vehicles at our sites around the world including at Nickel West, and we are progressing studies to better understand how to support a fully electrified mine,” Terry said.
Meanwhile, Terry told delegates on Wednesday that to meet the demand for nickel in a decarbonising world, Nickel West would be increasing the scale through the supply chain.
“There are extensive de-bottlenecking opportunities to increase capacity and recovery at each of our operations, such as potentially introducing expanded milling capacity and modern flotation technology to our concentrators. As we grow, we refuse to rest on our laurels and we are already looking to introduce new efficient thermal and renewable energy generation into our networks seeking to offset future growth emissions,” Terry said.
“Our planned smelter renewal at the Kalgoorlie smelter, is fundamental to our future. It provides an opportunity to sustain our integrated supply chain, further unlock our resource with the potential to increase capacity and recovery, and could create a pathway for additional feed sources. These investments take a lot of planning and preparation and we're well advanced in the project, which continues in line with our capital approved allocation framework.”
“Nickel West is already a very sustainable producer relative to our peers. Nevertheless, we want to continue to improve. One part of our Kalgoorlie plan is to capture nearly all of our sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions. Presently a small percentage of our SO2 is released into the air with the majority being converted to sulfuric acid in our acid plant.
“It is our plan to upgrade the acid plant at the Kalgoorlie nickel smelter to capture almost all of the SO2 air emissions generated from the furnace and converter operations. Capturing SO2 is another pathway for us to deliver a more sustainable, responsibly sourced nickel product for our customers, lowering our environmental impact.”