S&P Global Market Intelligence recently released a report that looked into greenhouse gas emissions in gold mines. The company analyzed sustainability reports for 2020, which were obtained from more than 90 leading gold mines in order to carry out a year-over-year comparison of emissions and determine the influence of the coronavirus lockdown on greenhouse gas emissions.
The report states that despite fluctuations in gas emissions, mining grades declined last year, which led to a decline in the output of gold and, in turn, caused a decrease in per-ounce emissions intensity. In comparison with 2019, the output of gold last year decreased by 5% globally, mainly because of the lockdowns and restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The report also states that the combined output from primary gold mines, which made up roughly 34% of the global supply last year, also decreased by about 1%, when compared to 2019 gold output.
In the report, figures show that output from these gold mines also decreased to 840 megatons of ore processed in 2020, down from 847 megatons of ore in 2019. During the same period, emissions from these operations also decreased to 27.5 million tons of CO2 equivalent last year, from 27.7 MtCO2e in 2019. CO2 equivalent is a measure that’s used to compare the emissions from different greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential by converting the amount of other gases present to the equal amount of CO2 with the same global warming potential.
The report notes that the average intensity of emissions was roughly 0.7tCO2e per ounce of the gold produced, which is a negligible decrease year over year. However, the intensity of emissions increased gradually on a per-ton output basis to 28.6 tCO2e for every 1,000 tons of gold ore that was processed.
Mining grades didn’t change as much, even in open pit mines, with the report finding that the per-ounce intensity of underground mines grew by more than 12% but diminished in open pits. In general, the intensity of emissions per ton is said to be stable. With regard to the intensity of emissions of projects, the lockdowns that were imposed in various regions around the world last year didn’t cause any major changes.
The analytics firm adds that the lockdown period may have caused a decline in output, but the emissions mainly emanated from mines in operation. The research firm notes in its report that during the lockdown mills and equipment were shut down, which caused a decline in emissions. However, a decline in emissions divided by a lower output still yielded the same intensity in emissions.
The findings in the report may not be surprising considering that precious metals players such as Asia Broadband Inc. (OTC: AABB) are taking greater steps to limit emissions during their operations.
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