Technology & Communications

Mining Executives split on who bears burden of Climate Change

Highlights

  • BHP says miners need to take more responsibility for emissions
  • It’s still a very controversial view across the industry

The mining industry is starting to split on who bears responsibility for all the carbon emissions caused by smelting iron ore into steel.

The debate came to the forefront this week after BHP Group’s chief said miners need to tackle their role in global warming through the products they sell. The core of BHP’s business, digging up iron ore in Australia, is a key part of making steel, an energy-intensive process that accounts for about 7% to 9% of all man-made carbon emissions.

It’s a controversial view in the industry and opposed by Rio Tinto Group, which has argued that targets for indirect emissions are beyond its control. Anglo American Plc weighed in for the first time on Thursday, saying it’s too early to address pollution created by customers.

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“We’re somewhere in between the two,” said Anglo Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani, referring to the stances taken by BHP and Rio Tinto. “There is a bit more work to be done on our side before we decide whether we can commit.”

“Once you take a position you’re committed. We want to make sure it’s exactly the right position to take,” he said.

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WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF EMISSIONS?
  • Scope 1: The direct carbon dioxide releases from a company
  • Scope 2: The indirect emissions from electricity usage
  • Scope 3: All other indirect emissions. For example, this would include emissions created by a company’s products and represents by far the biggest share.

The debate among the world’s top miners shows how climate and global warming is becoming a bigger issue facing all companies. Executives face growing pressure from investor groups, who argue for more stringent targets on emissions, and the threat of divestment if they don’t comply.

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