In the face of climate change, mining not only plays a role as a supplier of copper to promote new low-carbon technologies but also presents a challenge to the industry to decarbonise its production of copper. We will achieve our goals of reducing carbon emissions by incorporating renewable energy and energy efficiencies in our processes.

CONTEXT

Antofagasta Minerals’ energy use represents almost 21% of cash costs – made up of 14% electricity and 7% fuel – and most of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There is a direct link between energy use and GHG emissions when energy is generated from fossil fuels.

Chile’s energy policy aims to decarbonise its energy matrix. It has set a target for renewable energy to represent 70% of its energy mix by 2050 and provided economic incentives to reach this goal. In 2018 renewable energy represented 47%1 of the country’s energy matrix. We can make a unique contribution towards these efforts not only because copper is vital for clean energy technologies but also by using renewable energy in our processes and decoupling our energy consumption from GHG emissions.

Mining is also very sensitive to the effects of climate change. In recent years we have all been affected by extreme weather events, such as heavy snow, floods and droughts, leading us to adopt an adaptive approach to climate change and focus efforts on technology and innovation.

MANAGEMENT

ENERGY MANAGEMENT

In 2018 Antofagasta Minerals’ Executive Committee approved an updated structure and governance of its Energy Management System. The update emphasises energy management as a key variable to be considered in different initiatives across the organisation including innovation, operational excellence, competitiveness and costs, and as a mechanism for GHG reduction.

This involved making adjustments to management structures based on ISO 50001 guidelines and establishing the basis for the new system’s operation. For this purpose, we began different key tasks such as preparing consumption profiles for each operation, analysing the portfolio of Operating Excellence projects to determine the projects’ contribution to reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions, and defined KPIs to measure new projects.

In addition, in 2018 we continued to drive energy efficiency initiatives including increased performance at the Los Pelambres SAG mill, specific energy consumption improvements at the Centinela electrowinning plant, fuel-use and mining truck utilisation efficiencies at Zaldívar and the evaluation of crusher utilisation rates at Antucoya.

In 2019 our tasks are to prepare an electromobility roadmap, create an online corporate energy portal, develop and promote standards that incorporate energy efficiency into project designs and strengthen the governance structure through the Operating Model and highlight energy as an important variable to be considered in decision-making.

1 Report on Installed Generation Capacity, National Energy Commission, Chile.

CLIMATE CHANGE MANAGEMENT

The effects of climate change have become evident in Chile in recent years mainly affecting water availability in the centre and north of the country where Antofagasta Minerals’ operations are located.

In 2016 the Board approved a Climate Change Standard. The standard has three main aims:

  • Incorporate climate change into organisational culture.
  • Consider GHG emissions in decision-making from the initial design stage of projects until closure.
  • Include GHG mitigation measures, detecting opportunities at operations in electricity supply decisions and project energy efficiencies.

In 2018 Antofagasta Minerals also defined a target to reduce carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 300,000 tonnes by 2022 compared to the baseline in 2017.

The Board is responsible for climate change issues and the corporate environmental department for its management. In addition, since 2009 we have reported our climate change management to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).1

RENEWABLE ENERGY TO REDUCE OUR GHG EMISSIONS

In 2018, 23% of Antofagasta Minerals’ energy supply came from renewable energy.

At Los Pelambres, one of the world’s largest copper mines, 59% of energy consumption comes from photovoltaic plants, wind or power generated by its ore conveyor belts.

As from 2018 new energy supply contracts favour sources that reduce GHG emissions. For example, the new electricity supply contract signed between Zaldívar and Colbún S.A. for 550 GWh/ year will supply renewable energy from July 2020. Zaldívar will be the first Chilean mining company to use 100% renewable energy to produce copper, which will be verified by an external organisation.

Another GHG emission reduction initiative is the power increase at Centinela’s thermosolar plant which uses solar energy for heating processes at its electrowinning plant.

In 2018 carbon emission intensity decreased by 17% compared to the previous year, mainly due to the combination of the northern SING and central SIC grids. Before the combination, our northern operations obtained electricity from what is now the SING subsystem in which conventional energy sources make up 79% of installed capacity. Our operations now obtain electricity from the national electric system (SEN) in which renewable energy makes up 47% of installed capacity.

ANTOFAGASTA MINERALS' ENERGY CONSUMPTION - GJoules      
  2018 2017 2016
Electricity consumption 12,513,335 11,906,112 11,538,454
Fuel consumption 11,962,226 9,491,721 9,153,704
Renewable energy consumption 23% 21% 17%

 

GREENHOUSE GAS (GHG) EMISSIONS2      
  2018 2017 2016
SCOPE 13
Tonnes CO2 equivalent
1,026,220 854,628 795,994
SCOPE 24
Tonnes CO2 equivalent
1,391,695 2,071,937 2,000,010
TOTAL EMISSIONS
(SCOPES 1 AND 2)
Tonnes CO2 equivalent
2,417,915 2,926,565 2,796,004
EMISSIONS INTENSITY
Tonnes CO2e/tonnes of copper produced
3.33 3.87 3.67


1 Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is the leading organisation in the monitoring and disclosure of companies’ carbon and water footprint. More information on www.cdp.net
2 Figures include 100% of Zaldívar emissions although Antofagasta plc owns 50% of the mining operation.
3 Scope 1: Sources of direct emissions in operations controlled by Antofagasta Minerals S.A., such as from machinery, vehicles or boilers.
4 Scope 2: Indirect emissions from electricity generation activities by sources that are owned or controlled by a third party associated with the consumption of energy inputs eg electricity bought from SEN.