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Climate change impacts nature. Nature impacts climate change

Climate change is happening. The year 2023 has been confirmed as the hottest on record for global average temperatures. 

The impacts of this warming can be seen in more frequent and severe storms, floods, droughts and wildfires in all corners of the world – threatening our towns and cities, crops and water supplies. But the problem goes beyond this. 

The natural world, which underpins the global economy, is also suffering – from huge losses in biodiversity, to impacted habitats and ecosystems. And just as climate change is affecting nature, loss of nature is contributing to the intensification of the effects of climate change.

There is hope, however. Nature-based solutions, such as restoring ecosystems to absorb and sequester atmospheric carbon, are among the most effective strategies for mitigating carbon emissions. Conserving and restoring forests can help store huge amounts of carbon, while wetlands and mangroves can act to reduce the damage caused by storms and floods. 

The role of minerals and metals in fighting the climate crisis

Around the world, ICMM members are supporting efforts to protect biodiversity, support the regeneration of flora and fauna, and enhance nature-based solutions, but this is only part of the story. 

As the suppliers of the minerals and metals that are critical to decarbonisation and sustainable development, the industry has a particular responsibility to minimise the impact of its operations on the environment.

Recognising this, in 2021, ICMM members committed to reaching net zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner and to accelerate action on Scope 3 emissions, by setting Scope 3 targets, if not by the end of 2023, as soon as possible. And in 2023, ICMM issued new guidance on accounting, reporting and target setting for the more complex area of Scope 3 emissions.

Scope 3 emissions occur in a company’s value chain, including from the manufacturing of products purchased from suppliers, and items processed, produced and transported by customers repurposing that company’s materials.

ICMM members are embracing their role in supporting value chains to decarbonise, from ensuring that good quality measurement and reporting is in place, to a focus on innovation and collaboration with suppliers, customers, investors and NGOs to accelerate a sustainable world for all.

Working towards net zero in Chile

Antofagasta, one of the world’s leading copper producers (a resource that is crucial for low-carbon technologies) has shown its commitment to decarbonisation by becoming the first mining company in Chile to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy contracts in 2022. 

This resulted in a 90 per cent reduction in its Scope 2 emissions compared to the previous year, allowing the company to meet its target of reducing business GHG emissions by 30% three years early – an important step towards its long-term goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

Additionally, the company is working on reducing its Scope 3 emissions, beginning by applying an internal carbon price on tenders for carbon-intensive products and in the evaluation of projects.

Cleaner, safer vehicles 

To accelerate a reduction in Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ICMM is working with leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and technology suppliers, in a non-competitive space, to collectively explore innovative solutions to accelerate action in reducing GHG emissions.

Leveraging the strength of partnerships to bring diverse viewpoints and capabilities together, the initiative is demonstrating how the power of collaboration can help to build trust that in turn concentrates intellectual and financial resources, bridges differences and builds confidence needed to fast-track development and implementation of zero carbon solutions.

Traditionally, diesel engines have powered the trucks that carry hundreds of tonnes worth of ore across mine sites every day.

These vehicles produce anywhere from 30-80 per cent of direct greenhouse-gas emissions at a mine site, depending on geography and commodity being mined. 

Electric and hydrogen fuelled trucks offer alternatives to traditional diesel-powered transportation used at surface mining operations. Progress in implementing these alternatives is evident across the globe, with noteworthy examples found at ICMM member pilot sites. These include at Boliden’s Aitik and Kevitsa mines, Vale’s Água Limpa and Sorowako mines, and Anglo American’s Mogalakwena mine.

ICMM’s Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles initiative is supporting efforts to introduce zero-emission mining vehicles as soon as possible. The initiative is solution-agnostic, promoting different zero carbon solutions at scale by 2030, with the aim of full adoption by the industry by 2040.

Natural offsetting options

Newmont’s roadmap to net zero has pinpointed nature as the key to meeting its goals. 

The company is taking a holistic approach, prioritising nature-based actions to remove carbon within the value chain, which are also socially responsible and provide numerous environmental or community benefits. Schemes such as reforestation and wetland restoration can be positive for both nature and local communities, but will only be undertaken after consultation with stakeholders. 

The quality of offsets is a central focus of Newmont’s approach, delivered though its Net-Zero Guiding Principles. It is committed to only offsetting carbon when there are no technological solutions commercially available to avoid or minimise emissions, and all offsets must be certified under recognised and respected verification programmes. Newmont is also working with IUCN to implement its Nature-based Solutions Standard, helping to ensure that the development of offset projects around Newmont’s operations maximise positive outcomes for nature.

All ICMM members are working towards a decarbonised future, putting nature and climate change at the heart of how they manage their business. There is no magic wand to dealing with climate change but long-term, positive action in collaboration with local communities, NGOs, research partners and governments is already beginning to pay off.