LONDON – Spanish copper producer Atlantic Copper recently agreed deals to borrow €19-million to finance six projects intended to cut the company's energy use and reduce emissions, its managing director Javier Targetta told Reuters.
Sustainability has been a long-standing issue in metals, covering a range of topics including corruption, governance, communities around mines and mine waste.
But environmental concerns have moved to the top of the agenda in recent years with heightened awareness of climate change amid public protests.
Metals and mining are responsible for 10% of the total impact on climate change, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
The "green" loans along with credit lines of €25-million were agreed with Spanish bank BBVA earlier this year and recognise Atlantic Copper's efforts to cut energy consumption at its smelter in Spain.
"We have greatly reduced our energy consumption through innovation and we are looking to cut even further by, for example, recovering heat and turning it into power," Targetta said during London Metal Exchange Week.
"We are also looking for opportunities in the circular economy, looking for ways to recycle a variety of materials."
Targetta said the credit line was in recognition of meeting environmental, social and corporate governance standards as assessed by French rating agency Vigeo Eiris.
According to consultancy Wood Mackenzie, the Atlantic Copper smelter is one of the world's most efficient in terms of energy consumption per unit of copper in concentrate.
"The smelter has a dedicated department that supervises energy efficiency, plans and programmes to follow their performance in this regard throughout the year," Wood Mackenzie analyst Leonardo Meza Standen said.
Owned by Freeport McMoRan, Atlantic Copper produces around 300 000 t of copper a year. About half of that is for local consumption and the rest is exported.
BBVA's website says the bank plans to deploy €100-billion in green financing and sustainable infrastructure between 2018 and 2025.