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Reducing carbon footprint is key says mining companies in DRC

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During the DRC Mining Week, SRK Consulting MD Andrew van Zyl sat in on a panel discussion regarding sustainable mining. Image credit: SRK

Reducing carbon footprint is key says mining companies in DRC

With a depth of mineral potential drawing increased investment into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the success of the country’s mining sector is tied closely to its ability to meet rising demand for energy.

With mining companies looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint, the focus point at the recent DRC Mining Week, held in Lubumbashi in the DRC from 14 to 16 June 2023, was on sustainable energy generation.

According to Dominique Sambwa, geological consultant and chairman of SRK Consulting Congo, mining companies are looking for clean technologies to power their operations, especially in regions where infrastructure is weak.

“This is an exciting field in which SRK is increasingly involved – as it brings new areas of investigation and demands protocols that meet international standards,” says Sambwa.

Sambwa ads that the DRC already makes use of hydro-electric energy and had considerable potential for more. There is also significant potential for solar generation,” says Sambwa.

SRK Consulting South Africa’s managing director Andrew van Zyl, who was part of the SRK Consulting team at the DRC Mining Week, says that there is a keen awareness of the opportunities presented by renewable energy.

“Every enterprise needs a level of self-sufficiency in power supply, so there will be ongoing interest from mining companies – and even smaller businesses – to generate their own renewable energy,” says Van Zyl.

“There is certainly much interest and considerable expertise among our clients in the demands and opportunities associated with mining’s commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.”

Demand for minerals lead to infrastructure improvements (Reducing carbon footprint is key says mining companies in DRC)

According to Frank Li, senior geologist for SRK Consulting China, rising global demand for minerals required for lower carbon technology had boosted the country’s mineral sector.

This is not just the case for copper and cobalt in the copper belt but also related to tin, tantalum and lithium resources in the ‘tin belt’ from Kolwezi eastwards through Kivu province. This was already leading to some infrastructural improvements,” says Li.

“I am often in the DRC and every time I arrive there are improvements such as roadworks,” says Li. “In Kolwezi, for example, there is more infrastructure under construction; it is exciting to be witnessing the development of DRC and we are happy to be part of it.”

He says his work with a number of China-based mining companies active in the DRC confirmed that these companies embraced ESG as an important topic to incorporate into their operations and plans.

“Almost all of these companies are planning or have already setup ESG systems, and they are aware of the relevant international standards. They are also looking for guidance and studies that will facilitate the development of responsible supply chains,” says Li.

Power production has ESG implications ((Reducing carbon footprint is key says mining companies in DRC)

Wouter Jordaan, partner and principal environmental scientist at SRK Consulting South Africa says that the scope for independent power production in the DRC also brought ESG implications.

“With good potential for hydro-electric schemes, and quite a few new ones already underway, the country is seeing investment in solar energy generation,” says Jordaan.

“The renewable energy potential has underpinned growing interest from mines – to invest in renewable power for themselves and their local communities.”

He emphasises that mines had a potential role in facilitating energy access for local stakeholders, as this could contribute to the growth of local economies around the mine.

Mineral exploration and ESG were two important aspects of SRK Consulting’s three-way collaboration between its offices in the DRC, China and South Africa.

At SRK Consulting’s exhibition booth at DRC Mining Week, visitors discussed mining related solutions with specialists in a range of disciplines – from mining engineering and geology to environmental management and stakeholder engagement.

Reducing carbon footprint is key says mining companies in DRC

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Reducing carbon footprint is key says mining companies in DRC

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AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management