Feasibility of Applying Clean Development Mechanism and GHGs Emission Reductions in the Gold Mining Industry: A Case of Thailand

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Abstract

There is presently overwhelming scientific consensus that global climate change is indeed occurring, and that human activities are the primary driver. An increasingly resource and carbon constrained world will continue to pose formidable challenges to major industries, including mining. Understanding the implications of climate change mitigation for the mining industry, however, remains limited. This paper presents the results of a feasibility study on the implementation of a clean development mechanism and greenhouse gases (GHGs) emission reductions in the gold mining industry. It draws upon and extends the analysis of a case study conducted on gold mining operations in Thailand. The results from the case study indicated that total GHGs emissions by company A were approximately 36,886 tons carbon dioxide equivalents (tCO2e) per annual gold production capacity that meet the eligibility criteria for small-scaled clean development mechanism (CDM) projects. The electrostatic separation process was found to release the lowest amount of GHGs, whereas comminution (i.e. crushing and grinding) generated the highest GHGs emissions. By scope, the emission from purchased electricity (scope 2) is the most significant source. Opportunities for CDM projects implementation in the gold mining sector can be found in employing energy efficiency measures. Through innovation, some technical efficiency and technological development in gold processing (i.e. high pressure grinding rolls (HPGR), vertical roller mills (VRM), gravity pre-concentration and microwave heating technologies) that have the potential to reduce energy use and also lower carbon footprint of the gold mining were further discussed. The evidence reviews found that HPGR and VRM abatement technologies have shown energy and climate benefits as electricity savings and CO2 reduction of about 8-25.93 kWh/ton ore processed and 1.8-26.66 kgCO2/ton ore processed, respectively. Implications for further research and practice were finally raised.

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