News Brief

Mining Companies Pledge Net-Zero Operations by 2050

Decarbonized raw materials will mean final products with lower embodied carbon.

An open pit copper mine with heavy equipment.

Decarbonizing mining operations, like this open-pit copper mine, is now on the ICMM agenda. 

Photo: Docent Joyce. License: CC BY 2.0.
Twenty-nine companies—making up one-third of the global mining and metals industry—have now committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. All are members of the International Council on Mining and Metals.

Many minerals and metals that are mined are used for decarbonization of other sectors—as is the case for metals used for batteries and photovoltaic panels. So, these companies felt called to decarbonize their own sector and “embrace our responsibility to minimize the impact of our operations on the environment.”

There aren’t any hard interim milestones set as part of this net-zero commitment—meaning companies could make few significant reductions for years to come. And the commitment doesn’t designate specific strategies, so theoretically a signatory could achieve net zero entirely through offsets. However,  signatories are required to set “meaningful short and/or medium-term reduction targets” for Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2023. (Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, and Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of power). Scope 3 emissions—all other indirect emissions that occur in the value chain—are not covered by the commitment, but targets must nevertheless be set as soon as possible.

The signatories have also committed to reporting on progress, obtaining external verification, and reporting in alignment with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

Signatory companies include Gold Fields, South 32, and Mitsubishi Materials.

For more information:

International Council on Mining and Metals

Published November 1, 2021

Pearson, C. (2021, October 22). Mining Companies Pledge Net-Zero Operations by 2050. Retrieved from

Add new comment

To post a comment, you need to register for a BuildingGreen Basic membership (free) or login to your existing profile.


November 1, 2021 - 4:46 pm

I applaud the decarbonization of mining operations, but damage from mining for heavy metals causes significant environmental pollution of local air and water.  Implementing detox measures to protect local populations (human as well as ecosystem) is equally important.  The green revolution should not increase toxic material pollution.  We must also focus on reducing the consumption of mined resources lest we poison ourselves and the planet in the rush to lower its temperature.  See