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Rio Tinto’s Energy and Climate Change Leader Shares his Top 3 Power Concerns

Rio Tinto’s Energy and Climate Change Leader Shares his Top 3 Power Concerns
November 03
16:52 2015

“Energy forms a significant proportion of our operating expenditure, so it makes sense to identify benefits from increased efficiency and productivity of energy use,” reports Matthew Bateson, Global Practice Leader of Energy, Environment and Climate Change at Rio Tinto. “Longer-term attention is on the energy mix we use, both in terms of cost and in terms of carbon emissions.”

With operations across six continents, Rio Tinto’s major products are aluminum, copper, diamonds, gold, industrial minerals (borates, titanium dioxide and salt), iron ore, thermal and metallurgical coal and uranium. Based out of the company’s London headquarters, Bateson overseas Rio Tinto’s environment strategy, policy, standards, and assurance. He also has accountability for strategy development around climate change and the intersection with energy markets, policy analysis and engagement, energy efficiency and energy technology.

This week Bateson shares his top energy concerns and discusses the impacts of commodity lows on energy choices for mines. He will also join other mining leaders on January 28-29 in London to discuss the impacts of carbon policy on mining’s energy strategy at the Energy and Mines London Summit.

 Q: What would you say are the top three energy concerns that your company is facing?

A: Cost, security of supply and environmental impacts.  Currently, our main focus is on how we use our energy.  Energy forms a significant proportion of our operating expenditure, so it makes sense to identify benefits from increased efficiency and productivity of energy use.

Longer-term attention is on the energy mix we use, both in terms of cost and in terms of carbon emissions.  This is a balance between capital investment required, future cost savings and anticipating regulatory or societal pressures to decarbonize.  This is set against operating environments of often remote mines or processing facilities that require a reliable energy supply.

Q: How have changes in commodity prices affected your energy strategy?

A: Impacts on the commodities we produce mean that there is an even greater imperative to focus on our energy expenditure, driving a focus on productivity.  In terms of supply options, many of our contracts are long-term and are not immediately impacted.  However, as we look to renew contracts the differential costs between diesel, gas and renewable supply has to constantly be re-evaluated.

Q: What is the biggest misconception that energy companies have about the way that mining leaders think about power?

A: I suspect many energy providers think of mining companies as being unsophisticated when it comes to power options.  However, many mining companies, like Rio Tinto, are also involved in processing activities such as refining (alumina) and smelting (aluminum, minerals, copper).  Many of these activities are hugely energy intensive, particularly aluminum smelting.  Consequently, we have to be leaders when thinking about efficiency and energy use.

Q: What are you looking forward to at Energy and Mines London Summit?

A: Learning from other companies what a realistic path towards de-carbonization of our energy supply can look like and how we can partner and innovate around funding structures.



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Pablo Crespo

Pablo Crespo

Journalist and Corporate Communications Professional

TWITTER / @ENERGYANDMINES