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Chilean copper miners urged to improve greenhouse gas monitoring

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, September 08, 2022
Chilean copper miners urged to improve greenhouse gas monitoring

The copper industry and the manufacturing of semi-finished products emit about 112Mt of greenhouse gases a year in Chile. 

Mining, concentration, smelting and refining of the metal account for 80% and that needs to change to tackle climate change, according to a new study.

The greenhouse gases figure considers scope 1 (A1) or direct emissions from own sources; scope 2 (A2), indirect emissions from the generation of electricity, steam, heating or cooling; and scope 3 (A3), which includes all other indirect emissions from the value chain. 

Although Chilean mining has been a pioneer in the deployment of decarbonization goals, in accordance with the 2050 national mining policy, the study financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on which the mining ministry, the Corporación Alta Ley and industry consultants worked, warns that not all mining companies in the country are measuring and monitoring their A3 gases.

Of the total annual emissions of copper operations, 16.8Mt or around 15% are A3, Víctor Pérez, green mining advisor at Corporación Alta Ley – a Chilean organization that promotes sustainable mining – told a webinar to present the document ‘Guía sobre emisiones en la cadena de suministro de la minería’ (Guide to emissions in the mining supply chain).

In mining, A3 gases come mainly from inputs, transportation and logistics.

Mining undersecretary Willy Kracht told the event that mining companies have given priority to measuring A1 and A2 emissions, despite the fact that in Chile 50% of their emissions are associated with A3.

The shortfall in measuring A3 emissions is due to the lack of adequate technologies and agreements between the links in the supply chains, the webinar was told.

One of the objectives of the study is to standardize measurement technologies and adopt the traceability of the copper industry, to certify ‘green copper’ for international markets.

The study proposes using the United Nations GHG protocol as a basis, which considers 15 categories of A3 gases. But often not all of them are included in the measurements made by mining companies, Pérez said.

Some of the goals established in the document are:

  • Unify calculation methodologies and measurement criteria.
  • Commit the mining industry to the reportability and carbon neutrality goals established by Chile and the global mining industry.
  • Mobilize mining suppliers, both upstream and downstream, to have their own emissions tools.
  • Define an institution responsible for digitally collecting information and verifying compliance with industry and state policies.

“It’s not enough for the mining company to report its data, it’s essential that this data communication be supported and verified by a third party,” Pérez said.

The study calls for the forging of new paradigms in the measurement of greenhouse gases from mining and advancing in the energy transition.

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