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Diversified major BHP believed that global de-carbonisation efforts would hold significant opportunity for the resources sector.

BHP’s Minerals Americas president Rag Udd told the World Copper Conference, in Chile, that the push across the world to decarbonize would require substantial investment in infrastructure and technologies.

“In a Paris-aligned, 1.5o scenario, we expect that investment in areas such as copper-intensive solar generation, nickel-intensive batteries, and steel-intensive wind turbines will contribute to a more than doubling of the amount of primary copper and a quadrupling of the amount of primary nickel demand over the next 30 years relative to that produced over the last 30 years,” Udd said.

“The commodities we produce are the building blocks of the modern world. And they always have been. Everything from railroads to bridges, aeroplanes to batteries, and mobile phones to medical instruments require the resources that we produce.”

He noted that BHP has revised its internal electric vehicle penetration forecasts upwards.

“These vehicles use four times as much copper as petrol-based cars, and they will also need more infrastructure to connect charging stations to the grid,” Udd said.

“The simple truth is that we cannot build a better world without a reliable supply of these natural resources. This is what we do.”

However, Udd noted that as the world moved towards de-carbonising, BHP was also embracing efforts that would result in safe, more efficient operations built around new technology, sustainability and social value.

He pointed to BHP’s copper operations in Chile, where the company now operates the world’s biggest copper asset only on desalinated water, and in 2019 signed new power agreements based on renewable energy sources for both the Escondida and Spence copper operations, aiming to displace over three-million tonnes of carbon a year.

Udd noted that both Escondida and Spence were on track to have full renewable energy supply by the mid 2020s.

“The resources life cycle of exploration and production through to rehabilitation and closure requires us to operate our assets over many decades. Sustainability therefore sits at the heart of everything we do,” he added.