Investors are putting pressure on gold miners, whose high greenhouse gas emissions have been less scrutinized, to report transparently and take concrete steps to curb them after a rally in prices this year drew closer attention to the sector’s footprint.
Gold miners are among the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the mining sector, although critics generally point to coal miners and iron ore miners.
Scope 1 and 2 emissions from gold are higher than those of copper, nickel, iron ore and metallurgical coal, before factoring in freight and downstream emissions, according to data from ESG consultancy Skarn Associates.
Heavy haul trucks and power supplies are major sources of emissions, while deteriorating gold ore grades have forced miners to dig more rock to extract each ounce of gold in an energy-intensive process.
The World Gold Council estimates the sector emitted 32,689 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per tonne of gold produced in 2018, up 12% from the 2017 total. They have not yet published estimates for 2019.