Today, Australia’s economy includes significant energy-intensive industries that will be impacted by a global transition to a low-carbon future. Historically, coal mining has presented a multifaceted emissions challenge, spanning its life cycle from mining and transport, to its final use.
Despite this, the natural resources sector is home to some of the world’s best engineering capability. This means that Australia is well positioned to simultaneously benefit from a low-carbon transition – from rolling out new technologies, to supporting the development of new, clean industries like hydrogen and ammonia. These are not only technologies of a low-carbon future, but are also technologies with enormous potential for Australia.
With advancements in technology and a global shift towards sustainable solutions, there lies a unique opportunity for the industry to reshape its carbon impact. Since 2006, Low Emission Technology Australia (LETA) has committed nearly $700 million towards developing these solutions, and is excited to share its progress, investments, and promising future of decarbonisation within the mining sector.
Harnessing Clean Fuels
The potential of clean hydrogen, and the effective management and abatement of methane, cannot be understated. With LETA’s keen interest in advancing these technologies, several projects have been launched to explore the safety dimensions of ventilation air methane abatement. Together with its industry partners, LETA is diligently working towards the development of a first-of-its-kind project here in Australia, setting a precedent for future endeavours.
Beyond mines, the transport of materials also presents an emissions challenge. LETA’s work on clean ammonia production through coal gasification with carbon capture, utilisation and storage can potentially unlock new, clean sources of energy – providing a source of low-emissions, low-cost ammonia and/or hydrogen for fuel.
Clean Utilisation of Coal
This is where LETA’s commitment is robust and unequivocal. LETA is channelling significant resources into projects that ensure access to technologies that allow a cleaner utilisation of coal. This includes carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects for cement facilities; investing in carbon capture on existing coal-fired power stations; and exploring groundbreaking technologies, including a new zero emissions coal power station, and blending ammonia with coal to reduce carbon emissions from power stations without access to carbon storage. Beyond energy, the potential for creating clean fertilisers and fuels – such as hydrogen, ammonia and urea – through gasification and CCS opens up a realm of possibilities for a net zero emissions future.
Addressing the Carbon dioxide Challenge
Naturally with CCS projects, there’s a need to safely and efficiently handle the captured carbon dioxide. Recognising this, LETA has been spearheading investments into carbon dioxide storage hubs, ensuring that once it captures these emissions, they’re permanently and safely stored away.
The road map for a decarbonised future in mining is clear and attainable. Through strategic investments, collaboration and a commitment to innovation, LETA, along with its industry partners, is not only envisioning a cleaner future for mining, but is also actively building it. As LETA ventures forward, the importance of these initiatives can’t be overstated. With every step, we come closer to a sustainable, low-carbon future for the mining industry.