World’s Top Gold Miner Sets New Targets to Cut Carbon Emissions
(Bloomberg) -- The world’s largest gold miner has just set new targets to cut emissions by 2030 and said it wants to go carbon neutral two decades later.
But while Newmont Corp.’s plan is more ambitious than that of other mining companies including BHP Group and Barrick Gold Corp., it doesn’t fully address the elephant in the room for the global industry: the so-called Scope 3 emissions, which are generated by its supply chain and customer use.
The Greenwood Village, Colorado-based company plans to cut emissions from its operations and power generation 30% by 2030 from 2018 levels, with the target for Scope 3 set at 15%, according to a statement. It also wants to go carbon neutral by 2050, but provides little detail on how that will be achieved.
“We recognize that there are many aspects of Scope 3 emissions that are beyond our control, but I think that still requires us to work with our suppliers, work with our joint venture partners to find pathways to achieving net zero within that time frame,” Chief Executive Officer Tom Palmer said in a telephone interview. “For us, setting that goal, that ambition, that aspiration by 2050 very much puts the onus on us to work with those different stakeholders.”
Miners and other natural-resource producers are coming under pressure from climate-focused investors to set decarbonization targets. Most of the plans published target cuts of up to 30% by 2030, far below what’s needed to reach the Paris Agreement goals, according to a January study by McKinsey & Co.
BHP Group, the world’s biggest miner, set out new targets to lower emissions from its own operations by almost a third by 2030 and to zero by 2050, but has faced criticism for not setting targets for absolute cuts in its supply chain. Barrick has committed to reducing emissions by at least 10% by 2030.
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Newmont said the 2030 reductions target will be embedded into investment decisions for projects such as fleet vehicles, production equipment, onsite renewable power generation and energy efficiency, according to the statement. About 88% of the firm’s energy use for mining and milling is generated from carbon-based fuels, and progress will be reported using The Climate-Related Financial Disclosures guidelines, with the first report expected next year.
“When you talk about an aspiration at 2050, we don’t have the pathways to fully get there yet,” Palmer said. “But we’re miners and we’re in the business of exploration and we’re a business that is about science. And when good leaders and good mining companies put their minds to it and explore different ways to do things, we can encourage the technology and innovation that is going to help us get there.”
“I’m confident that we can work together and I’m confident that if we do work together we will find those pathways.”
The mining industry alone accounts for 4% to 7% of emissions globally, with the bulk of that coming from their suppliers and customers, McKinsey said. The firm said that staying on track to keep temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius would require all sectors to cut emissions by at least 50% by 2050 from 2010 levels. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would require at least 85%.
“Mining companies’ published emission targets tend to be more modest than that,” McKinsey said. “Any serious effort to implement Paris Agreement goals would require a major contribution from the entire value chain.”
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