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As Freeport converts mining trucks to green energy, costs are unclear

FILE PHOTO: Richard Adkerson, President and CEO of Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc., speaks at the Reuters Global Steel and Mining Summit in New York
FILE PHOTO: Richard Adkerson, President and CEO of Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc., speaks at the Reuters Global Steel and Mining Summit in New York March 9, 2009. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid

December 1, 2021

By Ernest Scheyder

(Reuters) – Copper mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc is converting its fleet of trucks powered by diesel engines and other machinery to electric or hydrogen power, a transition needed to fight transformation climate although costs are still unknown, CEO Richard Adkerson said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference.

The mining industry is grappling with a paradoxical role as a supplier of copper, lithium and other building blocks for renewable technology even as activities contribute to global warming.

Freeport, which operates mines in the Americas and Indonesia, has about 600 trucks — some transporting more than 400 tons (881,850 pounds) of dirt per load — and other equipment.

To power those machines, Freeport purchased 180 million gallons of diesel last year that, according to regulatory filings, contributes to so-called range one (direct) emissions.

“We have to invest to reduce our carbon footprint,” Adkerson said in the interview published Wednesday. “We will do that. It will cost some money. “

The Phoenix, Arizona-based company is testing electric and hydrogen-powered trucks and is working on other fuel sources for a coal-fired power plant in Indonesia, which operates the world’s second-largest copper mine.

Freeport is also participating in the Fee Innovation Challenge with Rio Tinto Ltd, BHP Group Ltd and others to help better electrify mine sites.

It has joined hydrogen fuel groups in South America and next year plans to test run diesel-electric trucks from Komatsu Ltd and Caterpillar Inc.

Energy accounts for about 20% of Freeport’s annual operating costs, though it’s not yet clear how that could change as the entire fleet is transformed, the company said.

“There will be an impact on supply due to the conversion of all of this,” said Adkerson. “There are more questions than answers.”

But Adkerson, who has been CEO since 2003, says it is “absolutely necessary” for Freeport to cut emissions. He cites extreme weather caused by global warming and the illegality of copper mining which produces emissions while the metal is essential for green energy solutions.

“The world will need copper, but copper mining has emissions,” he said.

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), an industry trade group chaired by Adkerson, has set the target https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/worlds-largest -miners-pledge-net-zero- carbon emissions as of 2050-2021-10-05 in October for all members – including Freeport – direct and indirect zero carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier, in part by decommissioning diesel-powered equipment.

Freeport is also working on ways to recycle waste rock at its mines to extract an estimated 10 billion pounds or more of copper. Adkerson says it’s too early to say how much copper can ultimately be produced with this method, but added: “Our engineering team is really excited about it.”

In Spain, Freeport is recycling e-scrap waste at one of its smelters. This operation will not become the main focus of the company, which prefers to focus on operating large mines, Adkerson said.

“That scrap copper will be necessary because what I believe is a real copper scarcity coming,” he said. “We don’t see (recycling) as a business opportunity for Freeport.”

To watch the Reuters Next conference, sign up here: https://reutersevents.com/events/next/

(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

https://www.oann.com/as-freeport-converts-mining-trucks-to-green-power-costs-unclear/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=as-freeport-converts-mining-trucks-to-green-power-costs-unclear As Freeport converts mining trucks to green energy, costs are unclear

Bobby Allyn

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