Decarbonisation

IMARC: Mining companies encouraged to explore new technologies to facilitate net zero transition

Global best practices, how to best approach energy transition, and the need to decarbonise have been a major focus at this year’s International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Sydney.

Over the past few days, delegates at IMARC have used the forum to determine which practices are best to implement and have encouraged mining companies to explore new technologies that can facilitate the transition.

The second day of the IMARC has put a spotlight on the industry’s response to ESG and energy transition.

Federal Minister for Resources Madeleine King told IMARC that Australia has “an unmissable opportunity and a remarkable responsibility” to help lead the global transition to a decarbonised future.

Addressing the conference, Minister King said mining was fundamental to the energy transition and that Australia’s leadership was critical in helping drive change, while at the same providing the exports, regional investment, and jobs.

The Australian resources sector and the great value of the exceptional natural endowment of this country dwarfs all other industries”

The Australian resources sector and the great value of the exceptional natural endowment of this country dwarfs all other industries. It represents 70% of our exports, 10% of our GDP and around $450 billion in economic activity in this financial year alone. It currently employs a record 285,000 Australians and generates around $43 billion annually in the taxes and royalties that provide the essential services the country needs.

But this does not all happen by luck. It takes people and their ingenuity and determination and commitment to create the industry that has become the backbone of Australia’s economy.”

Minister King told the conference the Australian energy and resources sector was in a period of major transition, and it was instrumental to global ambitions for a decarbonised economy.

Net zero cannot be achieved without the resources sector. We will need to mine more minerals, not less. Many of our resources are vital to the clean energy transition and a decarbonised global economy, such as batteries, wind turbines and electric motors.

Vast quantities of these minerals will be needed, and Australian production will be required to meet the ambition of the global goal of decarbonising our economies. Australia boasts some of the richest deposits of critical minerals reserves in the world. This presents us with an unmissable opportunity, but also a remarkable responsibility.

We must bring forward a new wave of investment in our resources sector and further demonstrate how Australia is not only reducing our emissions at home but is also a crucial player in the global effort to reach net zero emissions.”

Minister King is one of the 35 ministers from around the world to attend IMARC.

Cyber

Meanwhile, the keynote address yesterday (3 November) was a panel discussion focusing on energy transition and decarbonisation. The panel was made up of global heavyweights from the energy, mining, infrastructure, and digital sector.

David Solsky, Vice President Sustainability Software Solutions at IBM set the scene by commenting that “we are on the verge of the biggest transformation of the global economy in a century”.

Head of Climate Risk Governance at Minter Ellison Sarah Barker said: “What is certain is that the energy transition is going to happen. What is unknown is when or how. We do know however, transitions are not linear, they tend to be bumpy.”

However, the transition comes with risk warned Michael van Maanen, Executive General Manager, Corporate, Government and Community at Whitehaven Coal. Maneen understands the social and economic imperative of transitioning to green and renewable energy but believes the transition must not come at the expense of exponentially higher power prices.

Investors are accelerating the transition much faster than customers can bear and that’s problematic.”

Digital transformation and mining innovation continues to be a major business priority for the mining and resources sector, IMARC was told by delegates. Accelerated by recent supply chain disruptions, changes to cyber security requirements, and heightened requirements for remote and more flexible working conditions.

This has seen the digital transformation of companies brought forward; further amplifying the need to be more predictive rather than reactive to what happens in their business.

Challenges and opportunities with implementation of analytics, AI, and automation all remain of high interest to mining companies, especially as the application of such technologies and innovation continues to be strategically aligned with sustainability and shared value priorities.

This is especially true in the processing and refining plants, as they become smarter. Even the capabilities for innovation surrounding water, wastewater, dust control, emissions and tailings has increased, assisting the industry with its commitments to ESG.

Technology, as well as the modernisation of mining innovation, has helped to make the industry safer, more predictable, and more focussed than ever before. Supporting this are the current and future METS capabilities and availabilities to meet these ever-changing requirements.

Today (4 November) concludes the final day of the 3-day conference.

Mining.com.au is an official media partner of IMARC.

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

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Written By Adam Orlando
Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.