With our ability to help the mining and cement industries cut their combined 10% of worldwide C0₂ emissions, FLSmidth is arguably the Danish company that can realise the biggest, positive global environmental impact.
And this is fundamentally why we launched our MissionZero sustainability strategy – to enable our customers to move towards zero water waste, zero emissions and zero energy waste by 2030, writes FLSmidth CEO, Thomas Schulz.
Mining, cement and MissionZero are needed for a sustainable future
The green transition is increasing the demand for metals and minerals that are needed to produce wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, battery storage, air conditioning and other electronic equipment. Metals such as copper, lithium and vanadium, are central to green technologies and sustainable energy generation and storage.
In a 2020 report¹, for instance, the IEA states how clean energy technologies generally require more minerals than fossil fuel-based counterparts, with an electric car using five times as much minerals as a conventional car.
Meanwhile, global economic growth and urbanisation continue to increase the demand for cement. Investments in infrastructure provide people with increased mobility, better economic access, an improved quality of life and can lower inequality².
However, with cement production contributing approximately 7-8% of C0₂ emissions and the mining industry between 4-7%, the path to a low-carbon, sustainable future and higher living standards does not look very green.
The deployment of renewable energy is essential in helping us meet the Paris Agreement, even if it means that more minerals will be needed to get there.
Mining and cement are at the heart of a green future
But what looks like an unenviable Catch-22 is our company’s opportunity to make a real difference – and it is the reason we launched our MissionZero strategy. What if, as a major supplier of equipment, technology and digital solutions to the mining and cement industries, we could help our customers slash C0₂ emissions in cement? And what if we could aid more efficient resource and water use in mining and cut emissions there too?
We believe we can accomplish these goals – and that the time to accelerate efforts across the mining and cement industries is now. The era of mining and cement being labelled as non-green industries is ending and public perception is changing quickly. These industries are increasingly being recognised as vital for a green, low-carbon future and central to the realisation of the Paris Agreement and the effective implementation of green recovery packages post-Covid.
A World Bank report in 2020 emphasised how “all stakeholders along the mineral and renewable energy supply chains have a vital role to play in the transition to a cleaner energy system to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy for All), while ensuring that it does not come at the cost of the climate, the environment, and people” and that “the deployment of renewable energy is essential in helping us meet the Paris Agreement, even if it means that more minerals will be needed to get there”³.
The ingenuity and innovation needed to minimise our environmental footprint is all around us: some of it is within our own industries, some in partnership with customers, some with other industries and some from experts in the wider community.
Making MissionZero a reality
We are dedicated to the development and co-creation of digital and technologically innovative solutions that will make MissionZero possible and enable customers to move towards zero-emissions processes by 2030. I believe that the ingenuity and innovation needed to minimise our environmental footprint is all around us: some of it is within our own industries, some in partnership with customers, some with colleagues from other industries and some from experts in the wider community.
We are attacking the issue of climate change from every possible angle in our own research and development and we are actively engaged in technology development with the academic community. Already, we have solutions in mining that enable our customers to recover up to 95% of process water. In cement, we are seeking to make production fossil fuel-free and to reduce process emissions by using alternative raw materials, for instance.
MissionZero is, in its essence, an ambitious sustainability strategy that goes beyond what is attainable today; it will require a shift in how we collaborate and innovate. MissionZero is also an invitation to our customers, third parties and our peers to co-create and innovate together and to accelerate efforts to phase out inefficient technologies and much faster adoption of the best-available new solutions. Through this, we can create a much greener path towards a sustainable future.
¹ IEA (2020), Clean energy progress after the Covid-19 crisis will need reliable supplies of critical minerals, IEA, Paris
² World Bank Group (2014), Infrastructure, Growth, and Inequality: An Overview, The World Bank, Development Research Group, Washington DC http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/322761468183548075/pdf/WPS7034.pdf
³ World Bank Group (2020), Minerals for Climate Action: "The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/ The World Bank, Washington DC