Reducing carbon footprint in the mining industry: the role of carbon capture and decarbonisation
As the world becomes more aware of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on our planet, many industries are being pressured to take action to reduce their carbon footprint. The mining industry, in particular, is under scrutiny for its significant contribution to global emissions.
Decarbonisation is an umbrella term that encompasses strategies such as carbon capture and storage, shifting to renewable energy, electrification, and circular economy. The mining industry may have difficulty in wide-scale electrification according to experts, however, with access to massive infrastructure and equipment, the mining industry may be able to harness naturally occurring capability in carbon capture and storage with relative ease, and researchers are currently exploring circular mining economy which has great promise.
Carbon capture involves capturing carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes and storing them using a method usually involving chemical reactions. For the mining industry to capitalise on this method, organisations must look at carbon sources, and identify potential sinks as key components of this approach:
- Sources: Identification and capture. This requires a thorough assessment of the mining process and an analysis of energy usage and emissions. Once sources are identified, strategies can be developed to reduce or capture emissions.
- Potential sinks:
- Geological formations rich in Mafic minerals such as olivine and serpentine which can lock up carbon as iron or magnesium carbonates;
- Aqueous storage utilising naturally occurring chemical reactions and the dissolution of carbon dioxide in presence of limestone; and
- Living biomass, while this method is not specific to mining, large tracts of land may be utilised to harness natural processes (photosynthesis) to capture large quantities of carbon dioxide.
Carbon capture and decarbonisation require collaboration between mining companies, governments, and other stakeholders. EMM’s technical experts are well-positioned to provide strategic advice to mining operators on how to implement change effectively. Our earth, water and air experts work closely with industry stakeholders to facilitate collaboration and guide all parties towards a common goal. With our knowledge and experience, we help mining companies shift towards cleaner energy sources and adopt carbon capture technologies that can significantly reduce their emissions.
The mining industry has an important role to play in reducing global emissions. Carbon capture and decarbonisation are two strategies that can help achieve this goal.
Roald Strand (P.Geo)