Today the mining and minerals sector generates about 8 percent of Sweden’s total CO2 emissions. Fossil fuels are used in multiple parts of the industry’s value chain, and greenhouse gas emissions arise from transport and mining operations and in part from the processing of iron ore, metal ores, limestone and cement.
Most of the industry’s emissions come from production of iron ore pellets, smelting of ore into metals, and limestone and cement production, though emissions from the Swedish sector are low relative to global competitors.
At the same time, many of the industry’s processes and technologies are already fossil free, especially in mining operations, and the transition towards fossil free alternatives is already underway. The sector has made significant progress in switching from diesel- to electricity-powered technologies, and digitalization continues to drive optimization and efficiency, reducing overall energy and fuel requirements.
Processing of ore will require more to become fossil free, and especially to deal with the process emissions that arise regardless of which fuel is used, for example when limestone is processed to lime and cement. Here development of existing technologies as well as a shift to new, currently undeployed technologies will be required.
Biomass can replace some of the fossil fuels used today, but both fuel properties and supplies need development.
Electric heating options can be a long-term solution but are immature technologically today.
The iron- and steel industry is investing in hydrogen as a reducing agent in its HYBRIT project; research and development is likewise needed to identify process routes and system configurations for fossil free production of other metals and minerals.
Cementa has launched the initiative CemZero to investigate the conditions for electrifying cement production and CO2-emissions. Process emissions, however, will require a strategy for and development of technologies for CO2-separation and sequestration, geological storage of CO2 (CCS) and industrial re-use of CO2 (CCU).