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Carbon Tax Makes Renewables More Attractive – Newmont Mining

Carbon Tax Makes Renewables More Attractive – Newmont Mining
November 04
09:28 2016

Carbon price regulations are boosting the case for renewables at mine sites by making them more financially viable, says one of Newmont Mining Corporation’s chief metallurgists, Frank Roberto.

“Right now, without considering the cost of carbon, we default to the traditional sources of power. But, with the cost of carbon factored in, that gives us the opportunity to consider a wider range of power options, including renewables,” states Roberto.

Shadow price on carbon

Newmont is currently at the forefront of a new trend — introducing a shadow price on carbon. “For the past two years we’ve been putting quite a bit of effort into updating our strategy on how Newmont plans to deal with the Paris accord and the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) statement on climate change,” Roberto tells Energy and Mines.

Tanami operation

Tanami operation

The gold mining company has created a global committee on Energy and Climate Change, comprising various departments. The committee is in charge of developing carbon reduction strategies. “The most significant outcome has been the inclusion of carbon costs into our project planning, which will be released in the first quarter of next year,” he says.  

Newmont has already done several benchmarking studies around the shadow cost of carbon and opted for a range between $25-$50 a ton.

The idea of shadow carbon pricing is not that recent to Newmont, as the company is already paying for carbon in countries such as Australia. Nevertheless, in order to get the right estimate, Newmont had to look into its baseline for energy utilization — what it refers to as carbon-intensity. “Our forecast is based on the CO2 emissions per ounce of gold produced, including processing at the plant, refining of the gold and all of the infrastructure associated with that production,” Roberto explains. He adds that the biggest sources of emissions are coal and diesel fuel used at Newmont’s sites.

Ahafo - Ghana

Ahafo – Ghana

Newmont considering renewables at several sites

A more realistic grasp of how much carbon emissions might cost in the future is pushing mining companies toward cost-effective options, such as alternative power. “What the cost of carbon provides for our projects is a new incentive to make sure that we are considering power options that include renewables,” Roberto highlights.

Newmont is already looking into renewable energy projects at its operations in Australia and Ghana. “The company is currently analyzing existing solar sites in Australia to see whether adapting that sort of plan would be suitable at our remote mine site in Tanami,” he reports, adding that a 10 MW solar/thermal plant is being evaluated.

The company’s Energy and Climate Change committee is also considering solar in Ghana. “They are doing a study right now that is looking at either a 3 MW or a 10 MW solar plant there.”

Regulatory change needs to be gradual

The biggest energy challenge that Newmont and many other mining companies are facing is the dependence on traditional sources of power, including coal and petroleum. This slows down the transition to alternative power, notes Roberto.

“The change is not going to happen overnight. We’ll have to make those changes gradually and in a way that is cost-effective to our operations,” he states.



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Anna Golubova

Anna Golubova

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