A panel discussion on climate change and what COP28 means for mining showed that how countries invested in mining needs to be rethought and was a big job ahead.
Adam Matthews, the Chief Responsible Investment Officer of the Church of England Pensions, said his organisation had to take a long-term view as it had to provide pensions for the next 40 to 50 years.
“Mining and climate change are intimately linked as the Just Energy transition is not going to happen without mining. Mining is too often viewed through a negative prism, yet the sector is pivotal, so there is a big job ahead to change perceptions.
“What we are doing as an investor is to encourage mining companies to come up with a credible path to a net zero future. We evaluate risk and if a mining company has no credible path or no transparency, then we will disinvest and do that publicly to encourage other mining companies to act responsibly,” Matthews said.
John Mulligan, a director of Market Relations and Climate Change Lead at the World Gold Council, said although gold had little impact on carbon emissions, several African gold mines were at the forefront when it came to implementing renewable energy solutions with Gold Fields’ South Deep gold mine being one of the first to implement a solar photovoltaic (PV) plant once regulatory hurdles had been lifted.
“When the gold mine decarbonises there are spill-over effects to the local community, so by making the mine more resilient, so the local community becomes more resilient. It is a two-way dialogue and it is a learning experience as we need to do more, but we need to do that in a collaborative manner,” Mulligan said.
Katie Ferguson, the group head of sustainability at Anglo American, said Anglo American had set targets so that they were aiming for a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and to be net zero by 2050.
“We have reduced our water and electricity consumption over the past few years and we are looking to invest in 3 000 Megawatts (MW) to 5 000 MW solar and wind plants over the next few years, but we would be reliant on Eskom’s transmission system to wheel the energy from where it is produced to where it is used,” Ferguson said.
Beyers Nel, the group chief operating officer at Harmony Gold, said the gold firm had already installed 30 MW of renewable energy that provided 6% of Harmony’s peak power needs and they were looking at adding another 137 MW that would cater for an additional 24% of its needs.
“More needs to be done as we operate deep mines that are power intensive, so we are always looking at how we can reduce our consumption. In addition, we have mines in the rest of the world and when we look at starting a new mine we want to put in renewable energy right at the start rather than retrofit it down the line,” Nel said.
Dr Kojo Busia, a Founding Director of Green Africa Minerals, said a key outcome of the COP28 meeting was the establishment of a loss and damage fund that would help compensate developing nations from the impact of climate change caused by the pollution in industrial nations.
“The fund is recompense for the deprivation of livelihoods caused by climate change. It will also help developing countries to add value at source, rather than ship low value commodities thousands of miles to where they can be beneficiated. That long trip generates carbon dioxide emissions, so it makes sense to have value addition at source and African countries should seize the need to have critical minerals to help the planet decarbonise,” Busia said.
FutureCoal CEO Michelle Manook said China and India were showing the way on how to use coal responsibly.
“We need to have an honest talk on how we can reduce emissions and capture carbon as fossil fuels are a finite resource and we need to put our money where our mouths are. We must be wary of closing coal plants prematurely,” Manook said.