Find our full white paper to the left as an attachment.
The mining industry is facing immense pressure to align with the Paris Agreement to decarbonize the economy. Many companies have made public commitments to reach net-zero emissions targets within the next few decades. Some have committed to including their material supply chain carbon emissions reduction (Scope 3). These targets coincide with a period of increased demand to produce the minerals and metals for the global energy transition, declining ore grades, increasing complexity of ore bodies, and deeper mines. Even with improvements in energy efficiency and novel technologies, the total energy consumed by the industry will increase and complicate the pathway to net-zero carbon emissions.
The University of British Columbia has deep expertise in both mining engineering and clean energy technology. In launching the Sustainable Miner Energy Systems research theme, BRIMM aims to bring the many faculty conducting research and development in these areas together to address the challenges of moving the mining industry to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Our position is that net-zero will only be realized through a systems approach to energy and carbon. Every mine will have its system of technologies to achieve full decarbonization. This integrated system involves energy efficiency and waste reduction, renewable power supply, energy storage, renewable-powered transport, carbon capture and carbon accounting and reporting. Carbon capture will be critical to achieving the ‘last mile’ towards net-zero, and all mines will be reliant to some degree on removing carbon on-site or buying offsets.
BRIMM will commence the Sustainable Mine Energy Systems program with three focal areas of research. These are:
- Decarbonizing mine operations: How to select and integrate different energy technology options in supply, use and storage to maximize the removal of carbon-emitting processes on mine sites.
- Carbon removal and the circular economy: Waste from mining has the potential for capturing carbon dioxide. This can be done directly by cementing carbon in mine tailings or by remediating disused mines to turn them into biodiverse carbon sinks.
- ESG, shared value and energy justice: As miners reduce their carbon footprint, they will need to be transparent with customers and stakeholders to build trust. Blockchain technology can enable the tracking of carbon footprints for different mined products. Miners can also benefit local communities by designing energy infrastructure to be shared with local communities and handed over to them at the end of the mine life.
BRIMM works in partnership with industry collaborators by responding to inquiries and meeting to understand the nature of the challenge. BRIMM will then bring its diverse network of UBC faculty to customize an R&D program to co-create a solution with the industry partner.