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The world’s largest miner wants more action on carbon capture

Operational since October 2014, Unit 3 at Boundary Dam Power Station is the world’s first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage process on a coal-fired power plant.(Image courtesy of SaskPower)

BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP), the world’s largest mining company, is urging governments to provide more support to the industry for developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects.

The company’s vice president of sustainability & climate change, Fiona Wild, said BHP sees such initiatives as an effective way to reduce global emissions, meet climate targets and support millions of jobs globally.

The current challenge is to scale up CCS development at a pace that keeps the mining industry on track for “credible decarbonisation,” says BHP.

Despite key developments in the area, such as the Petra Nova project in Texas, which is the world’s biggest CCS built at a power station, Wild said more help is needed from both governments and industry to promote the technology.

“Although CCS and its component processes have successfully been demonstrated, more needs to be done to make it economically viable for wide deployment,” she said in a commentary posted Tuesday on BHP’s website.

In November, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said CCS schemes were a necessary addition to other low-carbon energy technologies meant to drive down global greenhouse gas emissions. And to meet the benchmarks outlined in the Paris climate agreement, the IEA has said CCS can’t be optional.”

While Wild agrees, she noted the current challenge is to scale up CCS development at a pace that keeps the industry on track for “credible decarbonization.”

“…Industry and government must work together to develop pilot projects, demonstration plants and ‘first of a kind’ commercial scale operations,” she wrote.

As an example, she quoted BHP’s initiatives on the matter in China, where the miner is working with Pekin University to identify policy, technical and economic barriers to CCS deployment in the country’s steel industry. She also mentioned the firm’s $1.47-billion Boundary Dam CCS project, in Canada, a joint effort with SaskPower that was the world’s first commercial-scale, post-combustion CCS project at a coal-fired generating station.

According to the IEA, global carbon emissions increased by an average of 2.3% annually between 2003 and 2013, but have since slowed to around 0.2%.