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‘Greening’ of Queensland mining picks up pace

Published by , Editor
Global Mining Review,

The number of Queensland resources company CEOs investing in low emission technology (LET) research and development has almost doubled over the past 2 years.

The Queensland Resources Council’s (QRC) latest State of the Sector report shows more than 70% of CEOs are now investing in LET research compared to 40% in 2019.

QRC Chief Executive, Ian Macfarlane, said the level of industry investment in new technologies will continue to rise rapidly as resources companies strive to reduce emissions.

The QRC’s March 2021 quarterly report shows 65% of member company CEOs expect to undertake investments to reduce emissions from their own operations over the next 12 months.

Nearly a quarter (22%) are already using renewable energy to power parts of their operations.

“Queensland resources companies are working hard to lower emissions and reduce costs by improving energy efficiency, adopting renewable energy and investing in co-generation or the latest low-emission research,” Macfarlane said.

“Our goal is to work towards a sustainable resources sector that produces a mix of traditional and renewable energy, along with the raw materials to achieve that, to meet growing world demand for Queensland commodities.

“If the industry gets this right, and we have the right policy settings in place to support sustainable growth, Queensland will benefit from the new investment, jobs and prosperity that come from our sector for generations to come.”

Based on Queensland Treasury’s most recent forward estimates, traditional resource exports of coal, LNG, and metals will continue to be major contributors to the state economy and employment.

Coal export volumes are predicted to rise by 23% out to 2024 – 2025 and LNG and metals exports are expected to remain stable for the same period.

Treasury figures also anticipate a broadening of the resources sector due to increasing demand for Queensland’s critical minerals and rare earths used in the production of emerging technologies.

In more good news for the state’s resources sector, a recent International Energy Agency report said reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement would mean a quadrupling of mineral demand for clean energy technologies by 2040.

An even faster transition, to hit net-zero globally by 2050, would require a six-fold rise in demand for minerals by 2040, largely driven by the increasing use of electrification, electric vehicles and battery storage.

Macfarlane said the resources industry is already well down the path of electrification, a critical first step in reducing the emission footprint of operations.

“Many of our company’s compressor stations, conveyor belts, draglines, grinding mills and reverse osmosis plants are already electrified,” he added.

“Our CEOs are telling us they’re considering everything from green power contracts to battery-operated underground vehicles as a way to reduce their carbon footprint.”

The latest State of the Sector report also confirmed the number one concern for Queensland CEOs – for the seventh consecutive quarter – is the global economy.

This is followed by concerns about the industry’s social licence to operate, which sits in equal second place with concerns about uncertain or poor government regulation.

“Social licence to operate has moved from fourth to second place in this latest report, which shows CEOs know they need to meet community expectations around a project’s environmental impact and social benefits,” Macfarlane continued.

“Likewise, the importance of having the right policy settings in place to attract global investors and stimulate growth is an absolute priority for our industry.

“That’s why the QRC is working so closely with the State government on rolling out a game-changing Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan.

“This plan has the potential to set Queensland up for sustainable growth across the resources sector for decades, and to become a reliable, trusted supplier of high-quality energy and materials to the world.”

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