Gold and climate change: The energy transition

‘Gold and Climate Change: The Energy Transition’ looks at gold mining’s energy transition and climate impacts over the next decade. This should provide investors and industry stakeholders with greater clarity around gold’s greenhouse gas emissions profile, the opportunities for the gold sector to decarbonise, and its potential pathway to net-zero, in line with Paris Agreement targets.

In this new analysis, building on our 2019 research and produced in collaboration with energy and mining specialists at Wood Mackenzie, we examine in more detail the opportunities for gold mining to decarbonise its power sources, which might allow the sector to reduce its emissions at a scale and speed sufficient to achieve climate targets. Recognising that action is needed over the next decade if net zero carbon targets are to be feasible, the report evaluates the impacts of reducing gold mining’s power emissions by 2030 to assess what would be required to be consistent with the Paris-aligned target of ‘well below 2 ºC’.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Based on the current status and known plans of the gold mining industry, the emissions intensity of power used in gold production is estimated to fall by 35% by 2030. This fall is based on the growing decarbonisation of grid-sourced electricity, and plans of gold mining companies to replace direct site-generated electricity from fossil fuels with grid connectivity and the increased use of renewable energy sources, alongside substantially reduced production from high emission mines.
  • If current plans to transition to lower carbon power sources become commonplace across the sector over the next decade, we estimate these changes could potentially reduce gold mining power emissions by at least a further 9% by 2030. This, combined with the above changes, should place a 1.5ºC target within reach.
  • Accelerating and expanding these actions will make achievement of Paris-aligned climate targets feasible. For example, the combined replacement of 20% of the power supply from both grid and direct fossil fuel sources with renewables should support industry alignment with the 1.5ºC target
  • The continued improvement in the economics and practicality of renewables, alongside enhanced energy and operational efficiency, and associated technological advancements, will support the sector’s ongoing transition.
  • Local and national factors will continue to play an important role, not least given the policy environment that governs the use of certain power sources in different jurisdictions.

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