Komatsu’s Greenhouse Gas Alliance partner Boliden currently uses a trolley-assist system for diesel-electric haul trucks at Aitik copper mine in northern Sweden. (Photo: Mats Hillblom, Boliden)

The World Economic Forum (WEF) published part of a report by FLSmidth on the importance of and strategies to decarbonize mining. The report discusses the growing concern among global governance organizations and major corporations that the carbon-reduction gains from using renewables must not be offset by the carbon generated during the mining of the minerals and metals used in green technologies.

The development shows the growing role of the United Nations (U.N.) and the WEF in regulating mining, specifically regarding carbon emissions. It also shows the close coordination between those organizations and the world’s biggest corporations via mechanisms within the U.N. Global Compact.

Globally, many of the biggest miners on the planet and the industry’s biggest suppliers have signed the compact. It binds them to the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda and to partnerships with other participants to take steps to advance the agenda.

Seventeen goals of the agenda are described in Mapping Mining to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas, co-authored by the U.N. and WEF.

The goals cover, among other things, societal obligations, gender equality and climate action. The first and foremost goal is to end poverty worldwide by 2030. The 13th goal, which is based on the ideas behind the 2015 Paris agreement, said miners should reduce their carbon footprint and “move away from coal.”

The Atlas said miners should “engage in dialogue with stakeholders to enhance adaptive capacities and integrate climate change measures into policies and strategies,” which means, among other things, “supporting global carbon pricing” or carbon taxes. They should also “support the development and deployment of low-emission technologies to reduce operational emissions and improve productivity.”

A report by the WEF on global employment stated those technologies, automation, and what it calls the COVID-19 recession could displace as much as 20% of mining workers by 2025. It reports new jobs will be created, but not as fast as old jobs are eliminated.

FLSmidth joined the U.N. Global Com-
pact in 2008.

Separately, Komatsu formed the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Alliance with Rio Tinto, BHP, Codelco and Boliden to support carbon-reduction targets. Through the framework, alliance partners will work on product planning, development, testing and deployment of the next generation of zero-emission mining equipment and infrastructure.

The launch of the alliance speaks to the sustainability goals of several of the largest mining companies in the world, Komatsu said. “We look forward to close collaboration with these industry leaders to accelerate development and deployment of the next level of equipment designed to reduce GHG from mining operations and ultimately achieve the goal of zero-emission mining,” said Masayuki Moriyama, president, mining, Komatsu.

BHP, Rio Tinto, Codelco and Boliden are U.N. Global Compact participants. Komatsu joined the compact in 2008. “As a company, Komatsu is committed to minimizing environmental impact through its business, targeting a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from use of its products and production of its equipment by 2030 (compared to 2010 levels) and a challenge-target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050,” the company reported.

Participation in the Compact, “along with similar involvements with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, is part of our commitment to fulfilling our obligations to society and the environment,” said Don Lindell, product director, electric dump trucks, Komatsu. “Commitment to an economy that serves all has driven our corporate social responsibility efforts for decades.”

More recently, BHP announced a partnership with Caterpillar to develop zero-emissions trucks to reduce GHG emissions. The partnership will provide early access to zero-emissions equipment to support progress toward the goal of net-zero operational GHG emissions by 2050, the miner reported.

“Another critical element of the collaboration will be to extend the parties’ efforts to support a more inclusive mining industry,” BHP reported. “Over the coming year, BHP intends to provide frontline operator and maintainer input into the Caterpillar design process to support the development of machines that can be operated and serviced by a broader range of the workforce.”

The Caterpillar Foundation partners with the U.N. Foundation, and the supplier’s sustainability goals target 2030.

Elsewhere, Mitsubishi Corp. will supply small electric trucks and fast-charging solutions to a BHP Group coal mine in Australia, according to a wire report.

The miner will initially use two trucks developed by Miller Technology to transport workers at the Broadmeadow mine in Queensland, Bloomberg reported. The trucks take 20 minutes to charge with Tritium Pty Ltd. chargers for a 10-hour shift.

The development shows Mitsubishi’s “inherent commitment to global sustainability” and its commitment to “contributing to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals,” Mitsubishi reported. Mitsubishi Corp. joined the U.N. Global Compact in 2010.