CEFC invests in clean mining technology to power a low-emission future

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Image credit: Clean Energy Finance Corporation

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has pledged up to $21 million to develop and market cutting-edge technological solutions to assist mining operations in decarbonising and repositioning the industry to reap the benefits of the future low-emissions economy. 

The CEFC’s investment in the Resource Capital Funds (RCF) Management Jolimont Mining Innovation Fund II will support Australian businesses trying to create cutting-edge solutions to lower emissions in the mining industry.

The Fund focuses on early to late-stage private mining equipment, technology, and services (METS) businesses with significant growth potential in Australia and abroad. The CEFC’s contribution will be directed to clean energy companies working to improve energy efficiency, create mine-specific renewable energy storage systems, and electrify more vehicles on mine sites by developing industry-specific software and technologies. 

The Fund will consider the potential for decarbonisation of the technologies that are now being developed and search for opportunities that encourage a stronger emphasis on net zero targets, focusing on baseline reporting of Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Adertisement

CEFC Resources Executive Director Rob Wilson said the mining sector must be decarbonised if Australia is to achieve net zero emissions and maintain its competitiveness in the global market.

“The investment is a significant opportunity to spur meaningful emissions reduction outcomes for the mining sector, as well as support the innovators whose technology can drive that change. The Australian METS sector is a global leader in developing and implementing such technologies, giving Australian miners a competitive advantage,” Wilson stated.

Wilson added that the CEFC could help the industry gain from the shift to a low-emissions economy by driving the decarbonisation across Australia’s mine sites and related processing operations. The CEFC also help a sector that has the potential to export its breakthroughs and lower emissions globally by funding the development of innovative technologies, Wilson said.

“We are particularly pleased to be working with RCF who have exceptional experience in mining-focused private equity and in fostering the growth of mining innovation companies. The potential pipeline of investee companies offers an exciting opportunity to recast mining in Australia for the long term,” he stated. 

A recent CEFC report on the mining industry discovered a compelling commercial case for decarbonisation. It warned that mining enterprises that did nothing risked losing market share as the world moved towards net zero emissions.

The compelling case for decarbonisation: Mining in a low emissions economy, published by the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia and the CEFC published, stated that technology would play a substantial role in decarbonisation and allow the sector to benefit economically from the low emissions economy. 

RCF Jilimont II Partner and Head of Funds Lyle Bruce said: “The global community’s ambitious decarbonisation objectives require access to critical minerals like lithium, copper, nickel, and others that are essential for electrification and decarbonisation. Low-impact mining and mineral processing is possible with the application of innovation and technology.”

According to Bruce, the METS industry is revolutionising sustainable mining by increasing the speed, efficiency, and safety of mineral extraction to help meet the exponentially increasing demand.

“Minong now and into the future involves automation, robotics, predictive analytics, the internet of things — these are the emerging technologies mining is using to help us get to a low-emission world,” Bruce stated. 

Resource Capital Funds Management, a leader in the mining-focused alternative investment sector, manages the Fund. Among its current investee companies is Brisbane-based Phibion, a provider of technologies for the ethical handling of mining waste. The Fund has also invested in Real Time Instruments (RTI), a company with its headquarters in Mackay that specialises in the efficient real-time analysis of bulk materials. 

According to CEFC, the mining industry is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and presents untapped potential to assist Australia in meeting its net-zero targets. It accounts for 9.5 per cent of all Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions in Australia, with higher downstream emissions based on the commodity. The mining industry has proven challenging to decarbonise due to its high energy intensity, a firm reliance on fuels with high emissions, such as gas and diesel, and limited access to grid electricity, the CEFC said. 

The Pilbara Minerals Pilgangoora Project in Western Australia and the technological start-up Novalith for more sustainable lithium mining and production are two CEFC investments in the resources industry. The CEFC has also invested in 3ME Technology, an Australian battery manufacturer allowing miners to switch from diesel engines to cutting-edge battery systems. The CEFC has also funded the world’s largest hydrogen-powered, zero-emission electric trucks through its commitment to Queensland’s Ark Energy Corporation.