Four pillars

Four pillars

Indicators

  • Carbon
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Environment

  • Addressing the challenges

    The very nature of mining brings its own unique challenges to the environment. Similarly, the copper produced can bring special benefits to society and contribute to addressing many of the environmental challenges we face today.

    Addressing the challenges

    The very nature of mining brings its own unique challenges to the environment. Similarly, the copper produced can bring special benefits to society and contribute to addressing many of the environmental challenges we face today.

    In reporting how the copper industry records its environmental footprint, ICA members have specifically focused on greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and water usage.The industry agrees that the process of producing copper has almost reached a technological plateau in terms of energy efficiency. This means that further reductions in terms of energy usage are unlikely to be significant. In order to continue to reduce carbon emissions, the industry has to source a greater portion of its energy needs through renewable energy supplies. The European Copper Institute has developed a low carbon roadmap to consider how copper based technologies could further reduce emissions by 25% by 2050. A similar roadmap is being developed at the global level to provide potential CO2 savings estimates. 

    How we measure the environment indicators

    The environment pillar looks at how copper mining, refining and fabricating activities affect the environment in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted and in terms of consumption of energy and water used. The data we have collected shows us that over time, the copper industry has reduced its environmental footprint to manage earth-limited resources more efficiently.

    The indicators used to evaluate copper’s environmental impact include:

    1. Carbon Dioxide (CO2): measures direct and indirect CO2 emissions from energy consumption per tonne of copper produced.

    2. Energy intensity: measures the energy consumption per tonne of copper produced.

    3. Water recycled and reused: measures the total amount of water recycled and reused expressed in cubic metres and also as a percentage of the total water withdrawal. 

    Copper helps reduce GHG emissions

    • The copper industry carbon emissions only represent around 0.4% of the world’s total emissions.

    • The copper industry is a small consumer of the world’s water supply, using around only 0.05% on an annual basis.

  • UP TO 7,500 TONNES OF CO2
    SAVED FOR EVERY TONNE
    OF COPPER ADDED

    An excellent conductor, copper dramatically increases the efficiency of energy transmission.

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  • MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF A SUSTAINABLE WATER SUPPLY

    In 2013, BHP Billiton approved an investment of US$1,972 million to sustain operations at Escondida in Chile, by constructing a new 2,500 litre per second sea-water desalination facility.

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  • ENERGY AND MINING, 

    AN UPHILL BATTLE

    When it comes to energy management, mining faces a unique challenge; over the life of a mine, energy use typically increases.

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  • REDUCING
    OUR WATER USAGE

    Anglo American has a 10-year group water strategy to deliver a 14% reduction in water usage by 2020.

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  • Providing heat to urban areas

    Using industrial waste heat plays a key part in Hamburg's Environment and Energy strategy and a unique agreement between Aurubis, the largest copper recycler worldwide, and enercity Contracting Nord GmbH shows how energy transition can work when it comes to heat supply.

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