Canadian firms have launched a slew of low-carbon innovations in recent months, driven in part by environmental, social and governance (ESG) pressures to decarbonise mining operations, according to a new industry report.

GlobalData’s Digging Deeper into Sustainability – Key Disruptive Forces in Mining report identifies various low-carbon solutions currently under testing by predominantly Canadian mining companies.

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At Ontario’s NORCAT Mining Transformed Exhibition in May, Canadian subsurface intelligence company Ideon launched an in-mine imaging software for critical mineral identification and extraction. While its primary function is to generate high-resolution 3D models to help geologists monitor mineral deposits, analysts believe the software will reduce environmental damage.

In Canada, other recent innovations of note include startup pH7 Technologies’ chemical process solution – which uses a closed-loop system to extract valuable metals without producing wastewater, effluent or off-gassing – and Medaro Mining’s renewably-powered hard rock lithium extraction technology.

German metals processor Aurubis has demonstrated the viability of using hydrogen for copper smelting (rather than natural gas) by introducing hydrogen-ready anode furnaces at its Hamburg plant. The project is part of a partnership with Finnish equipment maker Metso.

While the emissions released by mining are small compared to those released by fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions from global mining and resource extraction inflict roughly $3trn in damages every year.

Last year, Australian (32.9%), US (31.9%) and Canadian (28.5%) mining companies accounted for the lion’s share of environmental job postings. Major multinationals Rio Tinto, Fortescue and Norsk Hydro led charts with thousands of such postings.

The number of job postings relating to environmental mining roles also reached record levels in 2023 (more than 16,270 globally), compared to 11,938 (2022) and 3,460 (2021), the report reveals.