According to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Australian mining sector accounts for roughly 10% of Australia’s total energy use, with most of that energy supplied by diesel and natural gas. It’s no wonder, then, that mining can be a key driver as Australia targets a net zero carbon future.
Recently, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison doubled down on his government’s commitment to transform the country into a net zero economy by 2050, calling it “the great energy transition of our time.” While doing so, he recognised the efforts that Australian miners are already making to reduce carbon emissions.
Speaking at April’s Business Council of Australia annual dinner, Morrison outlined plans to cut carbon emissions without abandoning traditional industries in regional Australia. The government aims to do this by commercialising low emissions technology and reducing its costs.
The Prime Minister also implored companies in the industrial, energy, agricultural and manufacturing sectors to change their energy compositions within the next 30 years.
Morrison’s announcement comes after the federal and South Australian governments signed a $1.08 billion agreement to reduce emissions.
“We are not going to meet our climate change targets through punishing taxes,” the Prime Minster said.
“I am not going to tax our industries off the planet. We are going to meet our ambitions with the smartest minds, the best technology and the animal spirits of our business community.”
Saving jobs through energy transition
In his speech, Morrison used Fortescue Metals Group as an example of a company that is making an energy transition while also supporting jobs.
“Last week I was in Western Australia and saw first-hand the groundbreaking work that (Fortescue chairman) Andrew Forrest and Fortescue are doing as part of our energy transition as a way of sustaining jobs in the resources sector,” the Prime Minister said.
“The work that’s being done on green hydrogen is already attracting considerable interest from many countries.”
Before this, Fortescue revealed its plan to build the first green steel pilot plant in Australia. The company also wants to develop a green hydrogen plant in Brazil to help cut its dependence on diesel.
Fortescue is also switching to hydrogen and battery electric energy to decarbonise its mobile fleet and fixed plant.
In March, CEO Elizabeth Gaines announced that Fortescue plans to prove that major industries can be powered by renewable energy. The company wants to show that the demand for green energy sources could someday rival that of fossil fuel.
Reducing carbon emissions in mining
Morrison also lauded BHP for its own efforts to reduce emissions. The mining giant has adopted carbon capture and storage and begun trialing emission-free surface mining vehicles.
BHP has entered several emission reduction agreements with other countries such as China and Japan. The company hopes the deals will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ironmaking and steelmaking.
Last month, BHP raised its copper guidance for the 2021 financial year by 1.2 per cent as the company forecasts a doubling of global copper demand driven by worldwide decarbonisation efforts.
BHP CEO Mike Henry said BHP would do its part to contribute by continuing to invest in sustainable practices. He noted a number of sustainability initiatives across the company.
“BHP continues to deliver on decarbonising, in line with the Paris Agreement goals. We have established emissions reduction partnerships with three major steelmakers in China and Japan whose combined output equates to around 10 per cent of global steel production,” Henry said.
“In shipping, we have successfully completed an initial trial of marine biofuels, in addition to the tender awarded last year for LNG-powered iron ore vessels.
“In our own operations, we have established significant renewable power supply agreements for our Kwinana nickel refinery, Queensland Coal operations, and Escondida and Spence copper mines.”
VivoPower is excited to play our part in the Australian mining energy transition. Our Tembo electric light vehicles are designed for rugged mining conditions, eliminating diesel emissions without sacrificing power. Combined with a full suite of sustainable energy solutions (SES), we can help mines achieve their net-zero goals.