Social commitments in exploration and mining are increasingly important, and we are finding ourselves under increasing public scrutiny for our roles in environmental stewardship.
Aeonian is spearheading the tracking of carbon emissions created during the course of an exploration program, from greenfield prospecting to advanced mining operations. This helps us better understand our environmental impact, find ways to reduce our footprint and develop suitable and affordable methods to offset emissions. These offsets can also be built into a Social Licensing plan that helps contribute to communities.
Through our studies, we can often reveal inefficiencies that can spur a change in company culture and methodology, resulting not only to reduce carbon impact, but also save money in the long term.
WHAT ARE WE MONITORING?
We look at three specific areas when recording our carbon impact on a project:
- Operational: This is everything to do with remote work in the field, from travel to and from site, equipment usage and even third-party logistical support.
- Human: This is the everyday aspects of working on a project. We record online hours in the office to gauge electricity use, as well as energy metrics for the processing of waste products.
- Environmental: This final category records our impact on the land by disturbance of vegetation or productive soil layers, or reclamation work which has a positive offset effect.
HOW ACCURATE IS IT?
Measuring carbon emissions is not an exact science at this stage, with certain aspects being much more amenable to monitoring that others.
For example, specific fuel types produce carbon dioxide and methane at very steady rates. One liter of pure gasoline contains 0.63 kilograms of carbon, yet due to the chemistry of combustion it can produce 2.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
Some aspects are harder to measure, for example the amount of energy required to assay one sample at the lab, and so for these estimates are used.
WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES?
Through monitoring of our emissions we can see areas that can be improved in the long term. Exploration is challenging due to its remote nature, so the use of some greener technology is not always ideal. Carbon has a price, and our calculations can estimate that dollar amount which can then be used in environmental programs as part of our social license efforts.
Carbon pricing will be levied at around $50 per ton by 2022. We are using this higher number as a standard for our current calculations. For example, a recent four week prospecting program (road accessible) produced 2.671 tons of carbon dioxide, which would cost around $133.55 in Federal taxes.
Tree planting charities are another good way of offsetting carbon emissions. They calculate that 10 trees are required for every ton of carbon, at a cost of around $6 per tree.