Rio Tinto led team wins US Government funding to explore carbon storage at Tamarack

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A Rio Tinto-led team has been awarded $2.2 million by the US Department of Energy to investigate carbon storage potential at the Tamarack nickel joint venture in central Minnesota.

Rio Tinto has put together a team of climate innovators and researchers to look at novel carbon mineralisation technologies as a way to securely and permanently store carbon in rock.

In addition to the money from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E Innovation Challenge, Rio Tinto will provide $4 million to the three-year initiative.

Carbon mineralisation converts captured carbon dioxide (CO2) into rock and stores it underground using natural chemical reactions.

It has the potential to be a key technology in achieving global climate targets, and it is now being employed on a big scale in Iceland by Carbfix, the world’s top carbon mineralisation firm.

Rio Tinto’s technical experts will collaborate with PNNL, which has demonstrated carbon mineralisation technology in Washington state, Columbia University, Carbfix, and Advantek Waste Management Services, among others.

Talon Metals, the Tamarack Nickel Project’s main owner and operator, as well as Rio Tinto’s joint venture partner, is providing ore body information and land access for scientific field work.

Rio Tinto Chief Scientist Dr Nigel Steward said: “Our aim is to deliver carbon storage solutions that can help to meet climate targets by reducing and offsetting emissions from our operations and in other industries, and to explore the emerging commercial opportunities carbon storage may offer at Rio Tinto sites around the world.

“We will be working with leading researchers and innovators to prove the carbon storage potential of the Tamarack site and develop mineralisation solutions that can be used not just here but at other similar locations.”

Talon Metals CEO Henri van Rooyen added: “Rio Tinto has assembled a uniquely qualified team of scientists and innovators to explore new approaches to harness carbon mineralisation as a way to safely and permanently store carbon sourced from hard-to-abate industries and carbon removed from the atmosphere.

“Talon is pleased to host this project here in Aitkin County Minnesota, which will be at the forefront of new approaches to climate science.”

According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, billions of tons of CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere to keep global warming below 2°C, and this will necessitate not only large cuts in emissions but also carbon dioxide removal technologies.

While Rio Tinto is focusing on reducing emissions at its mines and smelters, it is also investigating the potential role of carbon capture and mineralisation to safely and permenantly store carbon in solid form.

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