Climate Change And Renewables Driving New Mining Boom, Mining Chief Says

FairfaxCole Latimer

The mining industry is addressing climate change head-on as it prepares for a new boom driven by renewable energy demand, a global mining council chief says.
The mining industry has been under fire following a recent UN report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said Australia must limit and eventually phase out its thermal coal mining to help fight rising global temperatures.
ICMM chief Tom Butler says demand for energy will drive a new resources boom for copper and lithium. Credit: ICMM
The mining industry and Australian government pushed back, saying mining has a long role to play in the country.
Speaking ahead of the International Mining and Resources Conference on Tuesday, International Council on Mining and Metals chief executive Tom Butler told Fairfax Media mining and a carbon price are both needed to achieve the IPCC’s climate goals, supporting a renewable energy boom that will drive more mining.
“Our materials will be critical to enabling the decarbonisation of the planet,” Mr Butler said.
“The mining sector has a critical role to play in the sustainability effort. We can choose whether to be a leader or follow in that."
Mr Butler said the ICMM has also called for a carbon price. He said in order to achieve the two degree Celsius reduction in global temperatures the world will need more copper and lithium to support renewable technologies.
"If we're to achieve 2 degrees Celsius, we'll need around 20 million tonnes more copper and around ten times the amount of lithium - for batteries - that is currently mined to supply demand, and that isn't including electric vehicles," Mr Butler said.
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable refuted claims the mining industry was in denial over climate change but said Australian coal could play a role in addressing it.
"I don't think there are companies that are climate change deniers, and they understand the risk of it to industry," Ms Constable told Fairfax Media.
"While a value on carbon is important, you have to take multiple avenues, and one single way is not the best way to address it."
It comes as the mining industry highlights its alignment with the United Nations sustainable development goals, a series of global aspirations to improve society and environmental conservation to 2030.
Glencore has been singled out for its rehabilitation of its former coal mines.
In the report commissioned by the Minerals Council of Australia, it examined how Australia’s mining industry was promoting gender equality, education, economic growth, and water and environmental conservation.
The report focused on the work of Glencore’s coal business in rehabilitating more than 1000 hectares of former mining land at Mangoola, in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, and turning its Liddell coal mine into cattle grazing land.
It also covered BHP’s biodiversity conservation project and its $13.4 million land conservation operation in Tasmania.
“This report is the first step in our work to further understand, listen and import how Australia’s minerals sector work to support strong, resilient and inclusive communities across the country,” Ms Constable said.


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