The Green mining sector is forecast to grow to an impressive $17bn per annum over the next five years. Combining a range of technologies and techniques, green mining aims to help decarbonise the industry at large while offering environmental and sustainability guarantees. The big players are moving swiftly to capitalise on opportunities while reducing the environmental impact of their businesses as the world transitions to net zero.

As it stands, here are the giants at the forefront of mining’s green revolution:

  • Anglo American PLC(UK)
  • Glencore PLC (Switzerland)
  • Rio Tinto Group (UK)
  • Komatsu Limited (Japan)
  • Jiangxi Copper Corporation Limited (China)
  • Caterpillar Inc. (US)
  • BHP Group Limited (Australia)
  • Vale S.A. (Brazil)
  • Liebherr (Switzerland)
  • Tata Steel Limited (India)
  • Cummins Inc (US)
  • Dundee Precious Metals (Canada)

A notable exclusion from this list is Australia’s Fortescue Metals Group and its green hydrogen focussed subsidiary, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI). FFI is a leader in developing and implementing large-scale clean energy technology for the mining sector.

The company plans to decarbonise its local operations entirely by 2030 and is implementing many of its own advanced solutions in the process.

These solutions will ultimately be made available to the broader mining market.


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Green Fleets: A Shortcut to Net Zero Emissions in Mining?

The big gear gets a lot of attention, and with good reason. Vehicle fleets, particularly haul trucks, are responsible for up to a quarter of all mine site emissions above and below ground.

This figure excludes bulldozers, with 7% and excavators, with 5%.

For miners with ambitious reduction targets, addressing the carbon emissions from these vehicle sets, alongside locomotives used for ore transport, is a tasty prospect. In 2022, Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest iron ore miners, announced plans to test four battery-electric powered trains in the Pilbara. The locos are sourced from the Wabtec Corporation in the US, with production due to start in 2023, ahead of a trial period in early 2024.

Along their remote route, the trains will recharge at dedicated stations.

While also possessing the ability to partially recharge themselves via a braking system that sources energy from the wheels. Rio hopes that the battery-electric locos will significantly reduce emissions in the near term. As the company aims to reduce direct scope one and two carbon output (in the Pilbara) by 50% by 2030.


Can Bio-Fuels Bridge the Gap to Battery-Electric?

As a stopgap on the way to a full battery electric set-up, biofuels have appeared as an intermediate option. Major players, including Australia’s biggest company BHP and British giant BP, are trailing the energies for different applications.

Tests are underway at the Yandi iron ore site in outback Western Australia.

Known as drop-in sustainable fuels, they can be used with current vehicle configurations and could reduce total vehicle emissions by a whopping 60% in the near term. Going a long way to aid miners in their hunt for serious carbon cuts.

“According to BHP, about 40% of its operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions came from diesel-powered equipment in 2020.”

Bio-fuel relies on a combination of fatty acid methyl esters –  derived from recycled cooking oils – and very low sulphur fuel oil. BP is working with BHP in the Yandi trial, using hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuel in the operation’s haul trucks.



As a practice, green mining is set for rapid growth over the coming years. With many of the big players already investing heavily in sustainable technologies, the future will surely deliver some incredible strides towards decarbonisation. And, in the dichotomy of our time, mining will try to keep pace as the industry powers planet Earth on its path towards net zero by 2050.

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