International Council on Mining and Metals targets net-zero emissions by 2050

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has unveiled a new strategic target for its members to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 "or sooner" with pathways and plans to account for Scope 3 emissions to be published over the coming years.

International Council on Mining and Metals targets net-zero emissions by 2050

The current commitment does not yet cover Scope 3 emissions

The ICMM accounts for 28 mining and metals company members and more than 35 national, regional and commodities association members. It has today unveiled a net-zero target for Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions.

“As stewards of the minerals and metals that are critical to decarbonisation and sustainable development, we embrace our responsibility to minimise the impact of our operations on the environment. That is why today, we collectively commit as members of the ICMM to a goal of net-zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement”, the ICMM states.

The ICMM will ensure that members set clear pathways to achieve net-zero emissions “through meaningful short and/or medium-term targets”, with pathways to be published “no later than the end of 2023”.

Members will also have to set Scope 3 targets within the same timeframe and these will cover all material sources of emissions with a focus on absolute emissions rather than intensity-based targets.

Plans include deploying zero-emission mining vehicles across operations through the Innovation for Cleaner Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative. A Skills for our Common Future initiative will also help upskill communities to drive net-zero progress.

Some organisations within the sector have already published individual net-zero targets. Swiss multinational mining and materials giant Glencore, for example, has set climate targets headlined by a 2050 net-zero vision, covering all scopes.

Commenting on the announcement, Boston Consulting Group’s managing director Konrad von Szczepanski said: “Mining undoubtedly has a decarbonisation challenge ahead. At the same time as the sector reduces its emissions, mining companies are vital to produce the materials needed to build the future green economy.

“The imperative for the mining industry is to adapt to changes in demand. For example, BCG expects nickel demand to increase by a factor of more than 15 between 2015 and 2040 to supply electric vehicles with batteries, while demand for thermal coal will diminish by more than 20% over the same time. Businesses need to shift portfolios and invest accordingly. While the journey will come with its hurdles, critical to its success will be forming impactful, collaborative partnerships between government, business and industry leaders to accelerate action to achieve net-zero.”

Some of the members to the ICMM are also members of the World Gold Council, which recently committed to reporting their progress on managing climate-related risks, in line with the recommendation of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Many also have their own net-zero targets.

The Councils’ chief financial officer Terry Heymann added: “The World Gold Council is very supportive of the objectives and commitments expressed in this letter. As both a member of the ICMM, and as an organisation committed to ensuring progress on gold’s contribution to the decarbonisation of the global economy, we are encouraged by such a firm commitment to collective efforts across the mining sector to reduce emissions and better manage the industry’s climate impacts.”

Matt Mace 

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie