The Renewable Power of the Mine

Lead PI:

Unit Affiliation: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI)

Unknown start date - Ongoing
Project Type:

DESCRIPTION: Access to affordable and reliable energy is key for the mining sector and with rising demand for minerals and falling ore grades, energy demand is estimated to increase by 36% by 2035. Today, energy produced and procured by mining companies is mostly fossil fuel based. This will have to change if the sector is to contribute to the decarbonization of the world economy, needed for countries to meet the target adopted at the Paris Agreement of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5-2 degrees Celsius.

At the same time, the costs of solar, wind and battery storage systems have been falling at an unprecedented scale, which has encouraged an increasing number of mining companies to test these technologies at their mine sites. The Renewable Power of the Mine report, launched at the Energy and Mines World Congress in Toronto and prepared with the support from the German Cooperation, is the most comprehensive study to date on how the sector has been integrating renewables in their mining operations, the roadblocks that still exist, and the future trends that are likely to further drive the roll-out of renewables to supply electricity to mine sites. 38 case studies are included to highlight practical examples and lessons learned. Recommendations to address the outstanding roadblocks are included for governments, mining companies, independent power producers and donors.

OUTCOMES: As a follow up on this work, CCSI, in collaboration with the MIT Sustainable Supply Chains initiative and Rocky Mountain Institute’s Materials initiative, has formed a working group to engage minerals producers, end users, investors, and other stakeholders to collaboratively develop a joint carbon accounting framework for the minerals industry and its supply chain partners with the goal of its becoming certified as “Built on the GHG Protocol.” This will equip stakeholders with a true sense of the embedded emissions of metals and minerals used in end products such as renewable energy systems, buildings, electronics, and your beloved electric car. As of today, it is not possible to compare mining companies’ disclosure of carbon emissions across Scopes 1, 2 and 3 given the room for interpretation left out by the current reporting frameworks that are neither tailored to the mining industry nor harmonized. The emissions calculations framework for the minerals industry is the first step in the journey toward carbon transparency that will be needed for consumers and investors to understand and drive the decarbonization of industrial sectors.


MIT Sustainable Supply Chains Initiative, Rocky Mountain Institute's Materials Initiative



fossil fuels minerals energy climate change environmental risk mining