In order to meet United Nations sustainability goals, every major mining company has indicated their businesses will change in the next 20 years. The world is about to go through one of the biggest energy transitions in history and it’s clear that the mining industry will be greatly impacted. What can we expect? What are the energy transition strategies? Let’s break it down.
Each mining company has a slightly different approach to reaching the sought-after “net-zero” carbon emission metric. The most common plan elements are:
- Electrification and hydrogen processes
- More sustainable operations
- Direct removal of carbon from the atmosphere
- Carbon credits
This blog describes these elements and outlines how Cisco is working with the industry to help make them a reality.
Electrification and Hydrogen Processes
A quick tour of the MinExpo exhibitor showcase in 2021 made it clear that equipment manufacturers are shifting to electric vehicles and, in some cases, hydrogen. With these new options, mining companies will begin phasing out fossil fuel-powered internal combustion engines wherever possible. Electric power plants and power purchase agreements will become more important as the fleet of electric vehicles grows.
Mining companies, like many others, have well-articulated sustainability plans. With a commitment to reduce scope 1 & 2 emissions, they are exploring more energy efficient ways to produce product and are developing new processes with lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Carbon Capture and Storage
Many mining processes release high volumes of GHG emissions into the atmosphere. Much work is being done to shift existing processes to cleaner ones. Where that’s not possible, the next best option is reducing existing process emissions. The most common method of reducing these emissions is to capture them, compress them, and push them deep into underground reservoirs for indefinite storage. Other approaches for storage are being developed, but this initial approach is beneficial to the industry and is the simplest early solution.
There are cases where emissions are still unavoidable because of market demand or economic barriers. As a result, the miners of these products will need to offset their carbon footprint. They do this by purchasing carbon reduction credits from organizations already achieving reduced carbon emissions. Although this isn’t the most desired solution for the environment, it is necessary to meet the world’s resource needs during the energy transition. In addition to payments for carbon offsets, these mining companies will also need to pay carbon taxes to fund new energy development and climate mitigation efforts around the world.
How Cisco Can Help
Cisco technology has a history of contributing to sustainability initiatives. From power efficiencies to supply chain sustainability, environmental monitoring and compliance to providing data transport for sustainability projects, Cisco’s sustainability journey is documented here.
Experience in Energy Transition
Over the last decade Cisco has worked with several customers to provide communication infrastructure and end-to-end cyber security for solar deployments, wind farms, and other new energy initiatives. Those experiences are being documented in reference architectures and case studies. As the energy transition gains momentum this pool of experiences continues to grow in volume and scope. New initiatives like EV charging, energy storage, and carbon capture and storage are coming online. Many of these customer references have applicability in the mining industry as well as the energy industry:
Efficient Power Usage
Cisco has deployed many smart building and campus solutions that monitor, optimize, and reduce power usage and carbon emissions using technology as the “fourth utility” and universal power over ethernet (UPOE+) to power low voltage devices and systems. Many of these solutions were first deployed at Cisco to showcase our own sustainability accomplishments and direction. These solutions are applicable across all industries and several of them can be applied in heavy industry and mining facilities:
Sustainable Supply Chain
To influence a sustainable supply chain, Cisco has a holistic approach. That approach extends from how we design, build, and deliver products, to how we value the assets we have and turn them into new products. We’ve committed to 100% of new products adhering to circular design principles, a 20% reduction in the use of virgin plastic, and a 75% reduction in packaging foam use – all by 2025.
Cisco often works with customers to share what they are learning in these initiatives to make similar transitions easier for customers. These initiatives span both enterprise practices and industrial practices:
Emission monitoring and control
Energy companies must measure and control multiple emissions metrics to ensure they are meeting their corporate and regulatory goals. Cisco has comprehensive experience in managing communication and data flow from industrial sensors or systems. Cisco partners like Emerson and Honeywell both have specific emissions monitoring solutions, and we’ve helped them achieve their goals. Your Cisco team can demonstrate industrial wireless integration with these and other partners:
As mining companies develop new, sustainable ways of doing business, Cisco can help them accelerate the anticipated benefits. The precision of a digital operation drives out waste. New sustainable ventures become more effective with the visibility, manageability, and security of a Cisco infrastructure.
Find out more about how Cisco helps mine operators with sustainability strategies at
Leading the IT Industry in Combating Climate Change – Cisco Achieves 100% Renewable Energy in U.S
Driving an inclusive recovery: How can Europe secure a digital and sustainable future for all?
Cisco Commits $100 Million to Help Address Climate Crisis