While there is limited published data on gold’s global carbon footprint, research by the World Gold Council (WGC) has determined that total greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions from newly-mined gold are significantly lower than those of other major metals and mined products.
“Gold is also valuable and, when analysed on a ‘per dollar value’ basis, findings indicate gold has among the lowest emissions intensity of all metals and mined products. In other words, the volume of GHG emissions associated with a dollar spent on gold is lower than for a dollar spent on most other mined products,” the WGC points out in its ‘Gold and Climate Change’ report.
The report states that responsible gold mining companies are seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint through improvements in energy efficiency and the transition to low-carbon energy sources.
“Member initiatives vary greatly in type and scale, but they share common goals.
“These projects include a solar plant that will transform a mine’s power consumption in Burkina Faso; mining company ventures to source hydroelectric power in Brazil and the Kyrgyz Republic; energy efficiency via award-winning air control automation in South Africa; similarly lauded energy savings from optimised ventilation systems in Canada; and the world’s first all-electric underground gold mine,” the report notes.
The report further states that gold may have positive implications for long-term investors in helping them manage the carbon footprint of their portfolios over time.
“Recent work looking at gold and equity investments suggests adding gold to a mainstream portfolio can, over time, reduce its overall carbon footprint,” the WGC points out.
In addition, the report highlights that gold itself may also play an important role in the technologies that help facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
It states that gold in a nanoparticulate form has “considerable” potential in a range of applications that can help reduce GHG emissions. For example, nanostructured gold catalysts help to convert carbon dioxide into useful fuels; gold nanomaterials can be incorporated to enhance hydrogen fuel-cell performance; and gold can be included in solar photovoltaic systems to improve how the sun’s energy is captured and used.
The WGC says the report is an initial step to build an understanding of the gold industry’s GHG footprint.
“This work is an important initial step in providing investors with greater clarity around gold’s impact on climate change.”