Why we all need to be thinking about the future of mining

ABB’s Nik Gresshoff on why we all need to be thinking about the future of mining

ABB Australia’s Head of Mining will be joining thought leaders from around the globe at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in November where he will discuss decarbonisation and electrification technologies creating a more sustainable future for mining.

When it comes to addressing some of the mining industry’s current challenges with meeting sustainability targets, Nik Gresshoff is clear that we need to understand the scope and scale of the challenge.

“First and foremost, we have to acknowledge that the mining industry is part of the problem,” he says. “The mining industry accounts for up to 7% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is evidenced by inflated energy costs and marked inefficiencies in traditional operational models.”

“Take for example, diesel,” he continues. “Diesel-fueled technologies may never become obsolete, but the energy needs of the modern mine simply cannot be met sustainably on diesel machinery alone.”

“Once we recognise this, we can take control of the narrative and start authoring some solutions. This is a huge opportunity for us to write our own story, and in ABB’s story, the future of mining is sustainable.”

Electrifying the mining landscape – From pit to port and mine to market

Championing the adoption of electrification technologies has been a focus for ABB Australia, and their ‘boots on the ground’ approach has proved successful in making great strides toward establishing Australia as a global decarbonisation powerhouse.

“In Australia, we are working closely with mining organisations and our partners to plan and build electric, connected and autonomous mines – from pit to port and mine to market – in order to fulfill the needs of the modern mine,” Nik explains.

By implementing leading edge decarbonisation solutions such as ABB Ability™ eMine electrification and automation technologies, supported by ABB portfolio of software, hardware, and service solutions, Nik says mining organisations can expect to see a return on investment immediately.

“It is our goal to reduce annual CO2 emissions by 100 megatons by 2030 —equivalent to the annual emissions of 30 million combustion cars. We will achieve carbon neutrality for our own operations by that date and we want our customers to achieve the same result.”

If mining organisations fail to adopt a more sustainable approach by utilising existing decarbonisation technologies that are available today, they will fall behind on their sustainability targets, emphasises Nik.

“There needs to be a transition period. Which is why we are committed to working with our mining customers to provide solutions that are safer, more productive and sustainable-by-design – to assist with expediting this transition.”

Mining and sustainability leadership

As the need for metals and minerals continues to rise as part of designing for a low carbon future, ensuring these products are responsibly sourced to the benefit of the environment and future generations is becoming critical to both the future of mining and the energy transition.

For ABB Australia, this sense of urgency has become a platform for affecting positive changes within the mining industry and cross-industry collaboration, Nik says.

“Mining’s decarbonisation journey is multi-faceted, and industry realises that collaboration is key. It’s partly about electrification – and innovation in energy generation. But it’s also about digitisation and automation, and how we work towards realising a fully connected mine. It’s great to see industry-wide initiatives like the ChargeOn Innovation challenge and the EMC Energy Storage challenge, where key players have come together to solve problems.
Nik maintains that the importance of mining industry’s role in achieving a sustainable future, and the ongoing sustainability efforts between mining organisations, partners and suppliers – needs to be talked about and better understood.

“To communicate the importance of mining to achieving a more sustainable future, every individual involved in the industry must lead by example,” he says. “One way we can achieve this is by educating our customers, business partners, and communities on how the mining industry is driving the sustainability conversation and sustainability outcomes.”
For Nik, the conversation starts at home.

“I want to make sure that my son grows up in a world that’s better than today, and it’s important that we are trying to solve these problems together, so that we ultimately have a cleaner and greener world. It’s critical that we demonstrate the importance of what we do in a way that will inspire the next generation of miners and mining technology providers in Australia to think about how we realise a sustainable future.”

ABB recently presented at International Mining and Resources Conference in November, where Head of Mining Nik Gresshoff spoke about – ‘Getting the mining industry to net zero: Australia’s opportunity to become a global mining decarbonisation powerhouse.’

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Natasha Hooper

Communications Manager – Country & Process Automation
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