Environmental Stewardship Drives Operational Efficiency and Commitment to Responsible Production
Robert Fritz is not thinking about Freeport-McMoRan ’ s environmental , social and governance ( ESG ) objectives as he steers his heavy haul truck out of the pit in the Morenci mine . His focus is on driving the vehicle as safely and efficiently as possible .
But Fritz , Truck Driver II , and others like him are critical to the company meeting its ESG commitments – more commonly known as responsible production at Freeport-McMoRan . By doing his job well and operating his truck to peak efficiency , Fritz is cutting carbon emissions while protecting the safety of himself and his fellow workers , important components of responsible production . He also is saving the company money by reducing fuel consumption , maintenance and repair costs , and work stoppages that result from equipment breakdowns or safety incidents .
So , focusing on responsible production is more than good policy . It ’ s also good business .
Robert Quintanar sees his job as Manager-Resource Reclamation as vital to maintaining the company ’ s social license to operate .
ESG VITAL FOR SUCCESS
Adhering to external ESG standards and establishing responsible production goals are vital for companies to succeed , said Trevor Lewis , General Manager-Sustainable Mining . Investors , lenders , customers and other critical stakeholders increasingly are demanding adherence to environmentally and socially responsible practices .
By its nature , mining impacts the natural environment . Minimizing that impact is critical to the company ’ s long-term success , including maintaining the support of local communities and government regulators . In addition to strict adherence to laws and regulations , Freeport strives to conduct its operations in a way that maximizes economic benefits of its resources while minimizing adverse impacts on the environment .
An old mining site near Bisbee in 2006 prior to restoration .
The same landscape today covered with clean soil and replanted with native vegetation .
CLEARING THE AIR
While ESG may be a relatively new buzz phrase for some , the behaviors it encompasses have long been ingrained in Freeport ’ s culture . On environmental issues , the focus historically has been on things like using water responsibly , protecting biodiversity and ensuring the safe management of tailings . More recently , company stakeholders have been highly focused on reduction of greenhouse gas ( GHG ) emissions to combat climate change , Lewis said .
Freeport is committed to reducing GHG emissions intensity in its Americas operations by 15 percent by 2030 ( from 2018 levels ). Globally , the company aspires to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 . This will require a multi-tiered approach that will take decades , Lewis said .
Big technology solutions like fully electric haul trucks running on batteries are still years away , Lewis said .
Even so , new operational approaches are being examined by both Freeport and the industry globally to see if there are ways to cut emissions while increasing efficiency . For instance , at Cerro Verde in Peru , the company is piloting a new class of diesel-electric haul trucks , all of which could allow for a smoother conversion to fully electric vehicles once that technology is available .
Under Freeport ’ s Copper Skies initiative , the company is working with its power providers to move toward more renewable energy sources for power generation , including wind and solar and battery storage . In the short term , that includes potential integration of up to 450 megawatts of renewable capacity into the company ’ s power supply .
“ We are ramping up these efforts now ,” said Johnny Key , Director-Energy and Power Management . “ We are starting with renewable energy as it is a proven technology that has proliferated into every corner of our economy . We recognize its potential for stabilizing our energy costs and reducing our carbon footprint .”
But the big payoffs for those solutions are in the future . The best way to cut GHG emissions now is to attain maximum efficiency with the equipment and people the company has today , Lewis said . So while frontline workers may not spend much time thinking about responsible production commitments , they are the people who make the company successful in achieving them by doing their jobs efficiently and safely , he said .
“ Everybody plays a role in this , and really our frontline workers are where the rubber hits the road ,” Lewis said . “ That ’ s where the difference is ultimately made .”
CUTTING CARBON AND COSTS
That ’ s where haul truck drivers like Robert Fritz come in .
“ What I ’ m concentrating on when I ’ m driving up the hill is trying to achieve the correct efficiency to help ensure the truck is performing at its highest level ,” Fritz said . “ If I ’ m doing my best , then my best will result in that haul truck being as efficient as possible . The carbon footprint is being reduced because of the essence of understanding your equipment and operating it to the standards and to the efficiency we ’ ve been taught .”
Much of that teaching comes from the Haul Truck Operator Scorecard ( HTOS ), which rates haul truck drivers daily by continuously monitoring their performance on things like speed and gear selection to maximize efficient performance , said Megan Golden , Senior Mine Engineer-Chino , and HTOS subject matter expert .