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Climate change challenges for the mining industry Claude Villeneuve Professor Département des sciences fondamentales Université du Québec à Chicoutimi.

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Presentation on theme: "Climate change challenges for the mining industry Claude Villeneuve Professor Département des sciences fondamentales Université du Québec à Chicoutimi."— Presentation transcript:

1 Climate change challenges for the mining industry Claude Villeneuve Professor Département des sciences fondamentales Université du Québec à Chicoutimi Iamgold workshop Chicoutimi Sept 17, 2012

2 Towards an uncertain future In the last forty years, science made the general deterioration of the global environment an undisputable evidence. It threatens mankind’s ability to keep developing on the same path – Biodiversity losses – Climate change – Ozone depletion – Ocean acidification – Nitrogen and phosphorus cycles acceleration – Freshwater availability and quality


4 Economic growth and energy

5 World primary energy sources Source: IPCC, 2011, Special report on renewable energy sources

6 Keep growing! Source


8 Émissions anthropiques en 2007- 29 Gt CO 2 éq Sources of anthropogenic GHG (Source: GIEC, GT3, 2007)


10 Source IPCC 2007


12 Global mean temperature trends Source IPCC 2007

13 Source NASA: (février 2010)

14 Global warming 'confirmed' by independent study (20/10/11) Source:

15 Uneven changes

16 Forecast? Source IPCC 2007

17 Future climate Mean temperature Canadian GCM [scénario IS92a (2xCO 2 in 2065)] ( Service météorologique du Canada, Environnement Canada ) 2010-2030 par rapport à 1975-1995 2040-2060 par rapport à 1975-1995 2080-2100 par rapport à 1975-19952020 2050 2090 1,5xCO 2 2xCO 2 3xCO 2 Actually it is the most probable scenario given: Fossil fuels availability International trade trends and incapacity to obtain a climate agreement

18 - 20 0 c 0 0 c + 30 0 c 304 000 m 3 48 000 m 3 9 000 m 3 Atmospheric water carrying capacity Low energy atmosphere High energy atmosphere

19 New climate event occurrence Source IPCC 2012

20 Dry future Consecutuve dry days Soil dryness anomalies Source IPCC 2012

21 Wet future? The degree of confidence in predicting heavy rainfalls or extreme climatic events is far less than prediction of dryness. Although these events are local and statistically much harder to predict on large scale (territory, timeframe), the climate science is now able to predict an increased occurrence for both types of extreme See: IPCC 2012, Managing the risks of estreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation

22 A new occurrence for climate extremes

23 Climate change evidence Ice surface and volume Permafrost surface Ocean surface acidification Sea level rise

24 Arctic sea ice

25 Trends August 2012 has been the smallest iArtic ice cover ever since satellital observations (NASA-GISS)



28 Permafrost surface



31 Upcoming global warming « We already have in bank a 2,4˚C global warming in the XXIst century even with the most ambitious GHG reduction programs, it is unavoidable. ». (Ramanhatan, V et Y. Feng (2008) On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: Formidable challenge ahead PNAS, 105:58:14245-14250 « The Copenhagen accord is not going to influence significantly the GHG emission patterns towards 2020 » OECD Environmental trends, 2012

32 Most recent forecast

33 A closer look for 2030 Source: Lean, J. and Rind, D, 2009, How will surface tempretaure change in the future decades, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L15708, doi:10.1029/2009GL038932,.

34 Outcomes? Higher variability and weather extremes («wild weather») Higher temperature means Accelerated ice and permafrost melting Sea level rise Water cycle perturbations (flash floods, drought) Change in seasonal behavior and migration of animals and plants

35 Growth? We are 7 billion people since October 2011 More than half are city dwellers since 2008 and the proportion keeps growing One more billion will add towards 2025 and another before 2050 20% of the poorest share 2% of the total wealth To reach OECD level by 2050, the WDP should increase 15 fold ans 40 fold for 2100 (Jackson 2009)

36 Source: IPCC, 2011, Special report on renewable energy sources Energy transition?

37 Source: IPCC, 2011, Special report on renewable energy sources

38 What’s up, Doc? Global warming, sea level rise and climate extremes will impact world’s economy in an impredictable way. – Agriculture – Forests – Transportation – Real estate – Tourism – Energy – Trade – Investment

39 Key concepts Source: IPCC, 2012

40 Mining An energy intensive sector – Lower mineral content of new mines – Remote locations – Global markets Mining occurs under most climate conditions all over the world and may have important environmental impacts depending on site sensitivity Life cycle of metals greatly varies in carbon intensity but generally, extraction is not the most important contributor

41 Gold? In gold mining, emissions varies greatly depending upon ore concentration, mine location and mining technologies Iamgold emissions raised from 170 kg/troy ounce in 2008 to 280 kg/troy ounce in 2010 and 316 kg/troy ounce in 2011 Gold is 100% recyclable. Only about 15% of world gold consumption is recycled annually thus mining and processing are the main processes contributing to global warming in the industry

42 Process flow for gold production Source: Rio Tinto

43 Breakdown of energy for a gold LCA Source: Rio Tinto These proportions varies from mine to mine and emissions will vary with carbon content of electricity grid

44 Global warming potential breakdown Source: Rio Tinto

45 Assessing vulnerability

46 Areas of concern Infrastructures – Transportation Roads Marine Freshwater – Containment (tailings) – Buildings – Energy – Communication – Mine site drainage Operations Environment

47 Transportation Permafrost instability – Roads – Airports – Railroads Sea ice cover – New opportunities for sea transportation in the Arctic Sea level rise – Seashore installations protection Glacier melt – Road security Inland waters – Lakes and rivers level influenced by drought

48 Containment facilities Warmer average temperatures can accelerate acid mine drainage Altered freeze/thaw cycles can expose previously frozen tailings Possible overflow or ruptures of dikes following flashfloods or high intensity precipitations Wind and wave action of extreme weather events can cause resuspension of tailings and formation of ice dams

49 Buildings and water supply Permafrost thaw can jeopardize building structures Higher average temperature can lead to water scarcity for ore processing or covering of tailings

50 Can mining industry adapt to climate change? Different strokes for different folks… each site has its own potential challenges Climate change concerns are relatively minor given the mining industry experience with natural conditions So why bother?

51 Good practices pay! Most measures to mitigate climate change are oriented on energy efficiency and better production Avoiding incidents due to unexpected weather events protects against lawsuits and fatalities RSI funds are growing in capital and they are concerned by the way mining sites perform (CDP, WDP, GRI etc.)

52 Tools? LCA Carbon footprint Carbon offsets R&D Education and training Renewable energy for electricity and fuels Better building requirements Flood management design Increased surveillance

53 Conclusion Climate change is real and it will increase in the 21st century Mankind action is the most important driver of climate change The mining industry is one of the important contributors through GHG emissions Changing weather and extremes may cause adaptation challenges to the industry There are tools to alleviate risks and improve performance

54 Questions?

55 Workshop

56 Timeframe 45 minutes for discussion (5 or 6) – Please mix provenances Coffee break (30 minutes) and discussion with UQAC research team 3 minutes per group for reporting Synthesis and concluding remarks

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