(Bloomberg Opinion) — Can mining be green? That’s certainly the ambition of some of the biggest companies in the sector. Rio Tinto Group last year became the first major miner to stop digging up coal altogether.
Glencore Plc, historically one of the commodity’s most vocal boosters, has promised to cap production at current levels. “We have a portfolio free of coal and oil and gas,” Rio’s Chief Executive Officer Jean-Sebastian Jacques told investors after annual results last month. “We are well-positioned to thrive in the world that values sustainability more and more.”
Well, up to a point. Miners have certainly been working to reduce the impact of their own operations. Partly thanks to asset sales and spinoffs, carbon pollution from on-site fuel and electricity – so-called Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions – has fallen by almost half in the past five years at the two biggest players, Rio Tinto and BHP Group.
Still, judging mining companies on the basis of their operational emissions is a bit like judging tobacco companies on the basis of their record on labor rights and board diversity. It’s interesting and worthy, but ultimately misses the big picture.
For the rest of this column: https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/mining-s-green-turn-undermined-by-steel-pollution