Mining’s role in a low emissions future

Mining companies across NSW are working towards a future with fewer emissions and more renewable energy in our power grid.

Emissions from coal mining are already down 38 percent since 2005.

We’re investing in massive projects to use or even produce renewable energy, including pumped hydro, large scale solar and battery storage.

NSW mining companies are producing the metals and minerals needed to build renewable infrastructure, like copper, gold, silver and zinc. They’re also needed for so many of the things we rely and need for the future, like electric cars, computers, medical devices, and every single smartphone.

And we’re mining the high-quality NSW coal that is essential for making steel and is needed for reliable energy while countries around the work build their renewable energy infrastructure in the years and decades ahead.

Transforming a mining pit into a hydro powerhouse

As Australia builds more renewable energy infrastructure, hydro-electricity is a great way to store energy generated from wind and solar that can be used during high demand.

After 115 years of productive mining, the old Muswellbrook Coal mine in the Hunter Valley is being turned into a new hydro power plant and solar farm. It will feed renewable energy into the grid for NSW families and businesses.

Water will be stored in the old mining pit and then pumped uphill using renewable energy. And when demand Is high, that water will be released through turbines in pipes back into the mine pit to provide around 8 hours of clean power.

Idemitsu, the mining company transforming the site, is also planning solar panels at the site that will provide energy for 79,000 homes.

Gold & Copper mining powered by renewable energy project

Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley gold mine and metals processing plant near Orange is a substantial user of electricity. It accounts for around one percent of all the electricity consumed in NSW.

As part of the company’s lower emissions future, it has signed an agreement to ensure that more than 40 percent of the mine’s expected energy demand will come from renewable sources from January 2024.

Coal mine powered by solar farm

Airly Coal mine, west of Lithgow, is not only producing high-quality coal for energy for NSW. It’s also producing power from a 2 megawatt solar farm it has built on the site to help power its mining operations.

The solar farm supplies around 20 percent of the electricity needed to run the mine, and when mining operations eventually come to an end, the company plans to put that power back into the grid to power homes and businesses across NSW.

Reducing diesel emissions across the mining industry

As we all transition to a low-carbon future in the years and decades ahead, mine sites across NSW are making the shift to new technology like electric vehicles and more efficient heavy machinery.

Supplier company Ampcontrol, who provides a range of equipment to many NSW mines, has developed a battery-powered electric personnel carrier for underground mines to reduce emissions.

And coal mining company Yancoal is upgrading many of the engines in their haul trucks and other large vehicles at its mines near Singleton and Mudgee, saving around 5.5 litres of diesel per hour per vehicle.

Mining for a modern world

The mining industry has a big future ahead, producing the metals and minerals used in almost every part of our modern way of life.

NSW has world-class deposits of key metals and minerals. This is what they’re used for.

Gold

Gold is used for much more than jewellery and in finance. It’s used in the plating of smartphone cameras, as well as on the circuit boards in gaming consoles and computers. It’s also used for dentistry and medicine. And it’s even used in aerospace to lubricate mechanical parts, conduct electricity and coat the insides of space vehicles to protect people inside from infrared radiation and heat.

Did you know?

Technology recyclers can extract an entire gram of gold from just 35 old mobile phones. For context, a typical gold wedding band contains about 3-6 grams of gold.

In fact, the gold medals awarded at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were made entirely from recycled electronics.

Silver

While most people think of jewellery and coins, the primary source of demand for silver is actually industrial applications and electrical devices. Silver is the best conductor of electricity of all the metals on earth, and is an essential component for computers, mobile phones and televisions.

Did you know?

One of the fastest growing sources of demand for silver is in solar panels, where it is used as a conductive layer on silicon solar cells.

In fact, some researchers estimate that 85 to 98 percent of the world’s silver reserves may be needed by the solar industry by 2050.

Copper

Copper is essential for so many things in modern life. It's used as a conductor for wind turbines, to provide grounding to wind farms. And it is needed for circuit boards and electronics in mobile phones, iPads and tablets, gaming devices, home appliances and more.

Did you know?

The Cadia Vallery near Orange, is one of the largest copper deposits in Australia.

An average car contains around 19 kilograms of copper.

Zinc

Zinc is an important component of solar panel cells, protecting them from corrosion. That means they need to be replaced less often, reducing their environmental impact. It’s also essential for sunscreen, some soaps, metal alloys, rubber for tyres and even ink for pens and printers.

Did you know?

Around half of zinc production is used to provide a protecting coating for, or to galvanise steel.

Nickel

Nickel is a crucial ingredient for making lithium-ion battery cells. These are the sorts of batteries used in mobile phones, tablets and laptops. It’s also used by most of the major electric vehicle manufacturers. Newer batteries use a greater amount of nickel because it boosts a battery’s energy density. That means your phone stays on longer, and electric vehicles can travel further.

Did you know?

It’s estimated tat a long-range Testa vehicle battery contains about 50 kilograms of nickel.

Cobalt

Cobalt is another important component of lithium-ion batteries, most widely found in electric vehicles, energy storage systems, and consumer electronics, including Apple devices like iPhones and iPads. Exploration is happening right now in NSW, with plans to develop cobalt mines in the future.

Did you know?

A single electric vehicle battery is estimated to contain around 14 kilograms of cobalt.