Prospects powerlines

Powering ahead with cleaner operations

As a resources company operating across the world, BHP has an important role to play in the transition to a low carbon future.

In September, we outlined our pathway to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2050. This is a tough but achievable goal that involves many different parts of BHP's business across the world.

As a reminder, Scope 1 emissions are direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from operations that are owned or controlled by BHP (e.g. emissions from fuel consumed by haul trucks at our mine sites). Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased or acquired energy consumed by a company (e.g. emissions from electricity BHP buys from the grid for use at our mine sites).

In our 2020 financial year, electricity accounted for 40% of our operational emissions making it a clear target for us.

In 2019, BHP entered into four new renewable power agreements for its Escondida and Spence copper operations in Chile.

The contracts will effectively displace 3 million tonnes of CO2e per year from FY2022, compared with the fossil fuel-based contracts they are replacing. These assets are now on track to have 100% renewable supply by the mid-2020s, at lower cost than the supply it replaces.

Last September, we signed a renewable power purchasing agreement to meet half of our electricity needs across our Queensland Coal mines from low emissions sources, such as solar and wind. This will run for five years and effectively displace an estimated 1.7 million tonnes of CO2e between 2021 and 2025 – equivalent to the annual emissions of around 400,000 combustion engine cars.

More recently, we signed a firm renewable power purchasing agreement to supply up to 50 per cent of our electricity needs at the Nickel West Kwinana Refinery from the Merredin Solar Farm. The agreement will help BHP reduce emissions from electricity use at the refinery by up to 50 per cent by 2024, based on FY2020 levels.

These contracts are a great example of the integration between social and commercial value. 

With big mines come big machinery. Diesel displacement is another area where we see great potential to reduce our carbon footprint. There is also the potential to unlock value, given the higher efficiency of electrified solutions compared with internal combustion engines, as well as the lower cost energy source that will underpin supply.

Earlier this month, we announced a partnership with Toyota on a new light electric vehicle trial at our Nickel West operations. This will build on BHP’s trials with other suppliers currently ongoing at Olympic Dam in South Australia and Broadmeadow in Queensland.

Longer-term, we plan to work with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on electric haul trucks, as well as innovative ways to use conveyors and trolley assist technology.  BHP is a member of the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) Innovation for Cleaner Safer Vehicle Programme. Through this we are collaborating across the industry with the aim to see zero emissions surface mining vehicles by 2040.

Our targets and goals are ambitious but achievable. Without a single solution to achieve them, our teams are constantly searching for ways to reduce emissions across our operations.  We look forward to sharing more with you as we collaborate with our partners to do more in this space.