We believe that measures to reduce climate impact must have a global starting point
The Swedish mining industry is among the most climate smart in the world. Increased environmentally smart production in Sweden means greater climate benefit from a global perspective. But we can get even better. The mining and minerals industry has in 2018 developed a roadmap to pave the way towards a competitive and fossil-free mining and mineral industry.
The mining and mineral industries take the climate challenges very seriously. It is not just about producing more climate-friendly products, but whether all business activities, both large and small, should contribute to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The industry’s competitiveness is directly linked to the fact that we make these continuous and sustainable improvements that also provide increased efficiency in operations.
Today, carbon dioxide emissions are generated in several parts of the mining and mineral industry’s value chain. The greatest climatic impact from mining itself comes from the use of fossil fuels in transport. The transition to reduced climate impact in mining production and transport takes place both through electrification or through the use of bio-fuels. There they have come a long way and today’s processes for grinding, crushing and enrichment are in principle already carbon dioxide-free and powered by electricity. The industry has also come a long way in switching diesel-powered machines to electric-powered ones. Digitalisation is an important driving force for streamlining and optimizing operations, which reduces energy and fuel consumption.
The processing of metals and minerals is energy intensive and generates greenhouse gas emissions. In iron ore production, emissions are linked to the use of coal for the reduction of ore (iron oxide) to iron. When limestone is refined into lime or cement, a large part of the emissions are so-called process-related emissions that occur independently of the type of fuel and thus cannot be quenched by means of changed heating technology.
In the processing area, the alternatives to switch to fossil-free and even more climate-efficient technologies are less mature than in the mining itself and the uncertainties are also greater. Despite this, many of the processes are among the most energy efficient in the world, and emissions are globally at comparatively very low levels. However, it is possible to further streamline energy use and reduce the carbon dioxide intensity (amount of carbon dioxide released in relation to the amount of metal / mineral produced), which is important to achieve a reduced climate impact. To make this possible, both development and investment in new technology, as well as up-scaling and commercialization of technologies that are currently being tested on a pilot scale, are needed. LKAB’s, SSAB’s and Vattenfall’s joint venture HYBRIT has clarified the possibilities for conversion to direct reduction of iron with the help of hydrogen.
Important with a global perspective to promote climate efficiency and not distort competition between countries
The mining and mineral industries account for about 7-9% of Sweden’s total greenhouse gas emissions. However, compared to many other countries, emissions are at very low levels and Swedish mining is carbon dioxide efficient. Efforts to reduce total CO2 emissions must therefore be made in international cooperation and in a way that does not distort competition between producers in different parts of the world.
Whether our companies have small mines or are large global players, they act in a competitive, global market. The conditions must be to compete on equal terms and with the right conditions. In June 2016, the Environmental Goal Committee presented a climate and air conservation strategy for Sweden. The cross-border agreement on climate policy provides clarity. As a starting point, the Committee states that Swedish climate policy should be conducted with maintained competitiveness and without increasing greenhouse gas emissions outside Sweden. This is something the mining and minerals industry agrees with. The climate issue is a global problem that requires a global perspective and global solutions.
Companies that dare to invest in climate-smart technology must benefit
The EU emissions trading scheme is a policy instrument for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective way. Companies that invest in new innovative technology to reduce their emissions must be able to reap the rewards of their technology leap and the system will benefit the companies that dare to invest.
The European greenhouse gas emissions trading system is in its third period, 2013-2020, and has negotiated the overall rules for the fourth (2021-2030). To a large extent, the emission rights are traded through the auction, while some, internationally competitive industries, such as the mining and mineral industries – belonging to the so-called carbon leakage group, receive a certain proportion of emission rights through free allocation. The allocation of emission rights is based on carbon dioxide intensity (benchmarks) multiplied by historical production level. The benchmark is set on the basis of the ten per cent best plants in the EU. The carbon leakage list system, benchmarks and with free allocation, will deal with the undesirable direct effects of EU-ETS.
Collaboration as well as investment in research and development is central
Some technology is in place, others need to be tested, developed and commercialized. We are at a level where technology steps and infrastructure efforts are needed to reduce emissions further. These are investments that, as a competitive industry, cannot do entirely themselves. A major important investment is HYBRIT. The state initiative for Industrial Life to reduce emissions in the base material industry is an example of support that is of great importance.
Another factor for succeeding with the climate change is, of course, the interaction between community actors. Politicians, authorities, academia and industry must work together in developing strategies and initiatives as well as in actual work.
In the climate area, Svemin works for:
- a holistic approach to climate policy that encompasses both national and global aspects and takes into account the benefits of the industry’s products
- a climate policy that maintains the competitiveness of the basic industry in the EU
- benchmarks used for emission allowance allocation shall be relevant and achievable and allocation shall be based on actual production level
- carbon-efficient companies should benefit from the emissions trading system
- investment in research and development for fossil-free, climate-efficient production processes including test plants and up-scaling