Decarbonizing Mining

Christian Spano, Director of Innovation, International Council of Mining and Metals joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss decarbonizing mining and how the circular economy can be ushered in through building stocks of materials that can be reused forever.

The conversation begins with Christian discussing what is being done to decarbonize mining transportation operations as there are roughly 28,000 large mine hauling trucks in operation collectively emitting 68 million tons of Co2 a year.

Health and safety at global mining operations was one of the early factors that started the conversation around the decarbonization of mining. From trucks equipped with ADAS to autonomous trucks, the aspect of how new technologies can improve the health and safety of mining operations is paramount to global mining organizations.

From 30 to 50 to 80 percent of the emissions of a mine come from haul trucks.

– Christian Spano

ICMM members are collectively working together to usher in the future of mining; a future that is sustainable and safe. To usher in this future, the infrastructure will have to be upgraded to accommodate hydrogen and electric vehicles.

The contribution of a mine turning net-zero starting with the mobile equipment, it’s a contribution to the country that is trying to decarbonize, but also accelerating the availability of all these solutions at scale for many other industries.

– Christian Spano

As companies begin to decarbonize mining operations, new jobs are being created. It’s not just jobs inside of the mine that will be created, it’s jobs outside of the mine that support the operation. Jobs such as material traceability will be created, but in order for traceability there has to be a global standard.

The demand for a global standard and material traceability will end up being driven by the consumer who demands transparency into the battery that powers their vehicle. The demand for EVs is not slowing down as in 2022, global EV sales surpassed 10% for the first time.

From a minerals and metals perspective, it is estimated that there could be a 20-fold increase in demand for nickel and cobalt by 2040. To meet this demand, we have to usher in the circular economy.

Recycling is not the circular economy. The circular economy is about building stocks that we can reuse forever. It’s about building stocks of materials that are durable.

– Christian Spano

The circular economy is a design opportunity. It’s an opportunity to redesign and rethink how we as a society approach metals and materials. With this approach, we have to keep all options on the table and approach the future of sustainability with an open mind.

Autonomous vehicles will play a role in the future of sustainability as autonomous trucks deployed in mines around the world will be cleaner and safer. ICMM members are actively embracing autonomy and deploying at their mine sites around the world.

Wrapping up the conversation, Christin discusses the future of decarbonizing mining operations.

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Recorded on Friday, February 3, 2023