A key priority is to cut CO2 from the pyrometallurgical activities.
Climate change is one of the main risks facing humanity over the coming decades. Eramet, a mining and metallurgy group, is at the heart of this issue given its intensive activity in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, the Group is also preventing emissions from some of its activities, for example in recycling. What's more, it is already producing, and will produce in the near future, the critical metals essential for the energy transition such as nickel and lithium. Eramet is a "part of the solution" group in the energy transition.
Specifically, in 2018 greenhouse gas emissions were an estimated 4.1 Mt of CO2 in scopes 1 (on-site direct emissions) and 2 (indirect emissions linked to electricity and heat purchases). Thanks to a high proportion of carbon-free electricity, emissions linked to electricity are low, at around 240,000 tCO2. The main emissions are linked to the reducers involved in the ore transformation chemical reactions (1.8 MtCO2), followed by heavy fuel (1.2 MtCO2).
These emissions are produced by:
- the transformation of ore through pyrometallurgy – a process for which there is currently no economically viable substitute technological solution (47%);
- electricity production: studies are currently being conducted to develop electricity production through lower-emission technologies (LNG plants and solar power plants in particular) (32%);
- the various heating activities (17%).
Facing the climate challenge: the strategy chosen
Having decided to ramp up its actions on this key topic for the planet, in 2018 the Group undertook a major reflection process to define a target of reducing CO2 emissions in scopes 1 and 2. Through its CSR roadmap published in 2019, the Eramet group has committed to cutting its carbon intensity by 26% in scopes 1 & 2 over the 2018-2023 period.
Two focuses will enable us to achieve this figure. The first involves implementing various initiatives to improve energy efficiency and help decarbonize the energy we use (see below) – an effort that is expected to generate a 9.5% reduction in the Group's emissions in terms of outgoing product. The rest of the expected decrease (16.5%) will result from a strategic choice: the ramp-up of mining activity (Moanda mine extension project, SLN mineral exports, etc.), which is much less emissions-intensive than the Group's other activities.
- -26% reduction in tons of CO2 per ton produced anticipated in scopes 1 & 2 over the 2018-2023 period.
(Multiple) actions put in place
To achieve these targets, major technical and organizational drivers have been identified, including converting the heavy-fuel electric power plant in Doniambo, New Caledonia, to LNG (liquefied natural gas) in 2023 and investing in solar panels on various Group sites.
At the same time, a host of initiatives have been launched to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on each site. These include:
- introducing innovative technologies to manage the gas-powered heating furnaces of the High Performance Alloys division
- systems to manage speed variation in the electric motors
- developing electric mobility, including installing charging points at most French sites
- rolling out LED lighting
Alongside these various projects, Eramet is continuing its reflection process to define a longer-term ambition. This will involve radical changes to procedures, which will need to draw on new R&D drivers currently being developed, including at the Group's innovation center Eramet Ideas.