Glencore and BHP say methane from ‘gassy’ open-cut coal mines can’t be captured


Coal producer Glencore has stated there isn’t any option to seize methane emissions from open-cut coal mines after latest allegations that its mines have been releasing far more of the gasoline than the corporate beforehand disclosed.

Methane is a greenhouse gasoline that’s answerable for about 30 per cent of world warming so far, based on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Last yr, the US and EU referred to as on nations to hitch a pledge to scale back methane emissions by a minimum of 30 per cent by 2030. Australia, the world’s second-largest coal provider behind Indonesia, declined to hitch the 113 nations that signed the pledge.

Glencore instructed the Financial Times that in contrast to underground mines, there have been “no practicable technologies or methods to capture fugitive methane emissions from operating open-cut coal mines”.

“As such these emissions are emitted into the atmosphere,” the corporate stated. Glencore operates 13 open-cut coal mines and 4 underground mines throughout Australia. It stated it captured some, however not all, emissions from its underground mines.

Open-cut mines, which extract coal from the floor slightly than underground, account for the overwhelming majority of BHP and Glencore’s Australian coal mines and the vast majority of coal mines globally, based on UK-based think-tank Ember. Coal mine methane kinds in coal seams and is launched through the mining course of.

Open-cut mines have been beforehand thought to emit much less methane than underground mines. But latest research by Ember and Dutch area analysis institute SRON discovered that some open-cut mines have been additionally huge methane emitters and alleged that corporations have been routinely under-reporting methane emissions at some mines.

SRON’s satellite tv for pc imagery advised Glencore’s Hail Creek mine in north-eastern Australia emitted 13 occasions extra methane than the corporate reported in 2019.

Glencore declined to supply its personal estimates for methane emissions from its Australian coal mines.

Fiona Wild, vice-president of sustainability and local weather change at BHP, stated it was “extremely hard” to seize methane emissions from open lower coal mines.

“A technological solution does not currently exist,” she stated, evaluating an open-cut mine to a dish the place the emissions are broadly dispersed over a big floor space, in distinction to bottlelike underground mines by which gasoline is funnelled as much as a single small exit level and simply captured.

BHP and Ember are working with the UN to handle methane emissions from metallurgical coal mining.

Sabina Assan, a coal mine methane analyst at Ember, stated satellite tv for pc imagery had debunked the idea that open-cut mines emitted much less methane than underground mines.

“If emissions are that high, we are going to have to develop new technology, or stop mining open-cut so intensively,” she stated, including improvement might need to cease altogether on the significantly “gassy” mines comparable to Glencore’s Hail Creek.

Ember this month reported that Australian coal mines emitted extra methane than the nation’s massive pure gasoline sector, and contributed nearly twice as a lot to world warming because the nation’s vehicles. The International Energy Agency present in February that world methane emissions from coal mining have been larger than these from both oil or gasoline manufacturing.

Tim Buckley, an power analyst and director of Climate Energy Finance, stated buyers have been changing into more and more involved about methane emissions.

“This is a material issue, because companies are materially and consistently underestimating their methane emissions,” he stated.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, an activist group, final week referred to as on Glencore to supply extra correct estimates of its methane emissions utilizing “best practice technologies, such as satellite, aerial and on ground methane surveys”.

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