Gold miners under pressure to reduce carbon emissions amid price surge

Gold mining companies around the world are facing increasing pressure from investors to reduce their total carbon emissions, after it emerged that the sector is among the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the mining industry.

According to data from ESG consultancy Skarn Associates, scope 1 and 2 emissions (direct and indirect electricity emissions) from gold are higher than those of copper, nickel, iron ore and metallurgical coal, before factoring in freight and downstream emissions.

The World Gold Council found that the gold sector emitted 32,689 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per tonne of gold produced in 2018, a 12% rise on the 2017 total.

The industry’s carbon footprint has come under the spotlight this year after a record price rally attracted billions of investment dollars in gold stocks and ETFs, while boosting the balance sheets of gold producers.

Some of the world’s largest gold mining firms have responded to growing investor climate concern by announcing GHG reduction targets, including the world’s top two producers: Newmont and Barrick Gold.

“We have certainly seen conversations around ESG ramping up pretty significantly,” Newmont CEO Tom Palmer said last month. The company committed to reduce its GHG emissions by 30% by 2030.

Meanwhile, Barrick will cut its emissions by at least 10% in the same time frame by switching to renewable energy at several of its assets around the world.