Editorial Feature

Transporting Mined Materials: Sustainable Developments

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol 2001 is the world’s most widely used greenhouse gas accounting standard. It is designed to provide a framework for businesses and governments to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions. Around 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies currently have a program based on the GHG Protocol. The standards include Scope 1, 2 and 3, which categorize the different types of carbon emissions a company creates in its operations and supply chain.

mining, transport

Image Credit: Mark Agnor/Shutterstock.com

Transportation in Mining and Scope 3

Scope 3 usually produces the most emissions because it includes transport used by third parties. It is largely unaccounted for because it is so difficult to track. This could be about to change due to the Paris Agreement 20-20-20, which sets a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide and impacts significantly on transportation.

Mining transportation includes air, rail, road and marine transport.

Scope 3 emissions in mining come from the transport of mined materials and often travel over long distances for processing. They then travel on to manufacturers and end-users. In particular, fossil fuels travel through international freight and haulage networks. These often use a variety of different transport methods throughout the mining supply chain.

The biggest failure in transporting mining materials has been a lack of recording and monitoring data. This could change if the mining companies adopt a data-led approach to monitor their own activities, identifying areas where scope 3 emissions could be reduced, including the transportation chain it uses.

In turn, this could provide institutional investors, which include government organizations and institutions, banks and asset management companies, with a way to better understand and manage climate change risk. It could also improve transparency, and initiate and facilitate targets for GHG reductions.

Improving Scope 3 paves the way for sustainable transportation in mining. 

Sustainable Mining Developments in Shipping Transportation

Shipping accounts for around three-quarters of freight transport activity in the mining industry as it is one of the most cost-effective and energy-efficient ways to carry cargo. However, much stricter measures are needed to reduce annual emissions by the 1.42 percent target by 2030, in line with the Net Zero Emissions pathway.  

Short-term measures include improving annual efficiency by 2 percent between 2020 and 2030, for which an environment framework has already been put in place.

The Poseidon Principles is an international framework for assessing financial institutions shipping portfolios in relation to their impact on climate change.

The Maritime Organisation (IMO) has also set new low sulfur emissions standards as well as a requirement to move away from heavy sulfur fuel oil in ship propulsion. The IMO has also set a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, and 70 percent by 2050.

If these standards are not met, it means companies such as Shell and BP will not achieve their scope 3 reductions at the necessary rate, and therefore decreased supply of compliant cargo will ensue. It is therefore in both the oil companies’ and shipowners’ interests to embrace the necessity for compliant vessels to meet their emissions targets.

Existing technology for green transport is not currently sufficient to meet target objectives, which is why the transition is being made in stages. Current approaches are the use of scrubbers to remove pollutants, and lower sulfur content fuel oils LNG and LPG, with more in the pipeline to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Other technology improvements center on improving weather forecasting, and navigation to reduce fuel consumption and maximize energy efficiency.

The use of hydrogen, particularly green hydrogen as a fuel source, produced by electrolysis of water using solar and wind, is also very likely set to become a revolutionary solution.

Mining companies should be able to collect data, including transport emissions information, then adapt or develop available solutions to reduce GHG emissions, especially in relation to scope 3 emissions.

Collaboration within the mining supply chain network, particularly with the transportation sector will become increasingly important as an essential component to reducing scope 3 emissions, and transitioning towards sustainable mining.

Demand for mined materials such as copper, cobalt, and lithium continues to rise to meet the demand for sustainable energy technologies, electric vehicles and batteries. It is therefore essential that mining companies meet this demand by embracing the necessity to address scope 3 emissions in transportation. If not, these emissions will increase and undermine efforts to achieve a global carbon net-zero economy.

Additional Technology in Sustainable Transportation

Non-Ballast ships are being designed to reduce the transit of sediments and micro-organisms and improve buoyancy. This is because conventional crude carriers rely on ballast tanks to achieve a submerged propeller, which increases fuel costs and damage from marine organisms.

Advanced rudder and propeller systems technology reduce fuel use by up to 4 percent and improve vessel speed, which reduces emissions.

Speed nozzles often used in smaller supply vessels are benefitting from new design technology to improve propulsion and reduce power up to 5 percent.

Advancements in hull coatings and paint, some utilizing nanotechnology, reduce frictional resistance and increase fuel savings. 

Waste heat recovery systems reduce fuel consumption and waste heat from exhaust gases can be utilized to generate heat and steam for heating cargo areas and accommodation.  Exhaust gas recirculation systems can also reduce NOx emissions from the engines by up to 80 percent.

Improved pump and cooling systems for pipes, coolers and pumps decrease flow resistance, fuel consumption, and up to 20 percent of electric power.

Sail and Kite propulsion systems can reduce emissions by up to 35 percent.

Sandwich Plate Systems (SPS) is also a technology that plays an important role in green shipping processes, as it uses two metal plates bonded with a polyurethane elastomer core. This avoids the use of steel, making the structure lightweight and less likely to corrode.

References and Further Reading

Greenhousegas Protocol (2022) (pdf) (accessed 05.16.2022) https://ghgprotocol.org/standards

Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in Deloitte 2022 (accessed 05.16.2022) https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/focus/climate-change/zero-in-on-scope-1-2-and-3-emissions.html?gclid=CjwKCAjw7IeUBhBbEiwADhiEMWAYbNQTUG75JqeLCgQNCHuagaTenHute5JvOx_eYozn0IQKu6vBzhoCU78QAvD_BwE

Transport, the supply chain and scope 3 emissions in mine 2022 (accessed 05.16.2022) https://mine.nridigital.com/mine_may22/transport_supply_chain_emissions

Scope 3 Emissions: How the freight industry will transition to net zero (02.11.2021) Fetch.S in Watson Farley & Williams online (accessed 05.16.2022) https://www.wfw.com/articles/scope-3-emissions-how-the-freight-industry-will-transition-to-net-zero/

14 technologies to Make the Ultimate Green Ship (04.12.2022), Mohitt in Marine Insight. (Accessed 05.17.2022) https://www.marineinsight.com/green-shipping/13-technologies-to-make-the-ultimate-green-ship/

What are Non Ballast or Ballast Free ships (12.24.2019) Dasgupta.S in Marine Insight (accessed 05.17.2022) https://www.marineinsight.com/environment/what-are-non-ballast-or-ballast-free-ships/

2020 Climate and Energy Package online in European Commission (accessed 05.17.2022) https://ec.europa.eu/clima/eu-action/climate-strategies-targets/2020-climate-energy-package_en

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Georgie Lyng

Written by

Georgie Lyng

Georgie Lyng is a freelance writer, with a strong interest in environmental issues, a focus on sustainable technologies, climate change science, improving biodiversity, and protection of natural ecosystems. Georgie completed an Open University BSc Environment Studies degree in 2016, enjoys researching environment issues, and writing about the latest scientific developments in the industry and sustainable solutions to help protect the environment.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Lyng, Georgie. (2022, June 24). Transporting Mined Materials: Sustainable Developments. AZoMining. Retrieved on June 14, 2024 from https://www.azomining.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1691.

  • MLA

    Lyng, Georgie. "Transporting Mined Materials: Sustainable Developments". AZoMining. 14 June 2024. <https://www.azomining.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1691>.

  • Chicago

    Lyng, Georgie. "Transporting Mined Materials: Sustainable Developments". AZoMining. https://www.azomining.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1691. (accessed June 14, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Lyng, Georgie. 2022. Transporting Mined Materials: Sustainable Developments. AZoMining, viewed 14 June 2024, https://www.azomining.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1691.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.