Want Your Mining Operation to be More Sustainable?
The First Step is Knowing the Facts
Finding ways to make trucks move faster, safer, and more efficiently can help mining operations significantly save costs and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
This emerging priority across the mining industry is set to change every part of the supply chain, from equipment manufacturing and rebuilds, to hauling and mineral processing. Meanwhile the Canadian government continues to tighten regulations, make changes to the carbon tax and impose new low carbon fuel standards. Combined with advancements in equipment and technology – it can be overwhelming and confusing for businesses to stay on top of all the changes and keep their mines running effectively and efficiently
Here are some of the most common misconceptions around emissions and equipment to help guide you on your journey to increased sustainability.
Myth Number 1
Carbon Tax is calculated based on emissions.
FACT: Emissions and GHG are often used interchangeably and in conjunction with carbon tax, but they do not mean the same thing. These concepts are related, but carbon tax is typically calculated based on predetermined factors of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels. The amount of emission reduction achieved from a carbon tax is not predefined but instead depends on the degree to which the carbon tax lessens the consumption of fossil fuels.
Of note: This is different from the “cap-and-trade” system which caps the total level of GHG emissions and divides it among industries using a mechanism called allowances. Companies are authorized to emit GHGs equal to the number of allowances they hold, and companies with extra allowances can sell them to companies that require more.
MYTH Number 2
Next generation Tier 4 equipment reduces carbon emissions.
FACT: Over the years, engine and truck efficiency has improved dramatically. There is no doubt that trucks manufactured today are more fuel efficient than trucks manufactured 20 years ago. But the development of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission Tier standards do not reduce carbon emissions emitted by Tier 4 equipment, it only improves the Criteria Air Contaminants (CACs). To reduce carbon emissions, another system has to be added to the truck requiring energy (fuel) to function.
CO2e is a function of fuel burn emitting the same CO2e per diesel of fuel, regardless of the Tier emission classification. Tier 4 engines emit less CACs compared to lesser Tier emission engines, however the carbon tax is not applicable to CACs.
Adding Tier 4 equipment is not going to solve climate change on its own, but integrating these engines into your fleet is a good start. You will receive greater fuel efficiency and many of these machines can also be rebuilt to their legacy tier emission standard or a higher tier emission standard.
Myth Number 3
Switching to electric machines is the solution to lowering GHG emissions.
FACT: In the right application, electric machines are more emission-efficient, assuming the electricity source is clean. But switching to electric machines in the mines is no easy feat and there is a long list of variables to take into account. Electric drive trucks use diesel engines and can burn a similar amount of fuel as a mechanical drive truck under the same hauling conditions. The efficiency of electric machines depends on the specific application, and you need to consider the overall mine plan and operating conditions to determine which machines are best for the application and will reduce emissions.
A Step in the Right Direction
With so many moving targets, including the science, technology, regulatory information, and the global nature of the GHG discussion, many companies have already added environmental, social and governance (ESG) experts to their team. The ESG role can help the mining industry navigate this complicated topic, keeping on top of guidelines, environmental grants and funding programs and regulation changes like the carbon tax.
About the Author
Cayce Kerr is Finning’s Industry Marketing Manager for Large Mining Trucks, holding the designation of Professional Engineer. Cayce has been with Finning for seven years, previously working as a Mining Application Engineer and Site Performance Manager. Cayce is a graduate of the University of Alberta Mining Engineer program, where he also obtained his Master’s in Science in Mining Engineering.
Finning is the world’s largest Caterpillar dealer delivering unrivalled service for over 85 years, selling, renting, and providing parts and service for equipment and engines to customers in various industries, including mining, construction, petroleum, forestry and a wide range of power systems applications.
Finning was first established in 1933 by Earl B. Finning, and has built its name on integrity, reliability and resourcefulness, growing as a result of its genuine commitment to earning customer loyalty. With its broad product support infrastructure and unmatched service capabilities, Finning delivers solutions that enable customers to achieve the lowest equipment owning and operating costs, while maximizing uptime.