Rio Tinto, one of the largest Australian miners, has commended the Albanese government’s signature emissions-reduction policy for providing crucial to support to heavy industry as it assesses the impact on its carbon-intensive east-coast alumina assets.
Rio Tinto’s refineries and smelters are some of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases that will face binding emissions caps from July 1 under a draft of the government’s signature climate policy called the “safeguard mechanism”, released on Tuesday.
However, Rio Tinto’s Australian chief executive, Kellie Parker, applauded the government for ensuring support for heavy industry, which she said was “at the heart of today’s announcements”.
“We will need to work through the details to see exactly what it means for all of our assets, but the government’s climate ambitions align with our own commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050 and our plans to decarbonise our Gladstone assets to meet our group climate targets,” Parker said.
“We really appreciate the support of government as we pursue the decarbonisation of our assets.”
The safeguard mechanism, which forms part of the government’s commitment to slash emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, is the first federal emissions-reduction policy since the Gillard government’s carbon tax from 2012 to 2014. The 215 facilities captured by the safeguard mechanism, which include sites such as coal mines, gas-processing plants, manufacturing firms and steel mills, are responsible for 28 per cent of the nation’s greenhouse emissions.
The safeguard mechanism was created by the former Coalition government, but the limits were not set tightly enough to force any industrial polluters to cut their carbon footprint.
To achieve the policy’s targets of reducing emissions by at least 4.9 per cent a year, or 30 per cent by 2030, companies will be forced to either adopt cleaner technology or invest in greenhouse offsets.
“These proposed reforms have been carefully calibrated to deliver the policy certainty and support Australian industry needs through decarbonisation,” Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said on Tuesday.
“We’ve been extremely encouraged by the level of engagement in the process to date, and look forward to continued constructive engagement as we finalise the design of these critical reforms for Australia’s net-zero pathway.”
‘We want to see an approach that puts Australia on a pathway to that 2030 target, but we need to keep our trade-exposed export industries strong and competitive.’Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable
The backing of Rio Tinto, one of the country’s largest resources giants, marks a significant endorsement of Labor’s climate ambitions. Industry representatives across the broader mining sector on Tuesday welcomed the government’s inclusion of an initial $75-a-tonne cap on the price of Australian carbon credits, but have voiced deep concerns that the overall cost of compliance may threaten their international competitiveness.
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable said miners represented roughly half of the facilities covered by the safeguard policy. “We want to see an approach that puts Australia on a pathway to that 2030 target, but we need to keep our trade-exposed export industries strong and competitive,” she said.
Rio Tinto has a target to halve its direct carbon footprint by 2030 and reach “net-zero” emissions – removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it emits – by 2050. While the company has committed to spending $US1.5 billion ($2.1 billion) on wind and solar energy across its flagship iron ore mines in WA’s Pilbara region to reduce the use of gas, it faces a more challenging task to decarbonise its carbon-intensive alumina and aluminium businesses spanning Queensland, NSW and Tasmania, which are among the nation’s biggest energy users.
Parker on Tuesday said Rio Tinto was assessing changes to processes at its Yarwun alumina refinery to reduce emissions by trialling the use of hydrogen instead of gas.
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Source: Thanks smh.com