The Minerals Council of Australia has committed to cutting carbon emissions at mine sites and thrown its support behind the Paris agreement as part of a new push on climate action.
The MCA's Climate Action Plan, released on Monday, outlines how the peak mining lobby and its members will "take action on climate change" as part of the sector's goal of net zero emissions globally and in Australia.
"There is no virtue-signalling here. These are concrete actions that will make a difference to our industry," chief executive Tania Constable told reporters.
According to Australian Associated Press, the Minerals Council supports building new "cleaner" coal plants.
"It's both possible and plausible for the coal sector to achieve near zero or net-zero emissions," Ms Constable said.
She said the Minerals Council remained committed to the Paris Agreement goals of combating climate change and boosting sustainable development.
Australia is a signatory to the agreement, committing the country to a 26 to 28 per cent reduction in emissions on 2005 levels by 2030.
The Minerals Council three-year plan does not include a target date to see mines decarbonise.
"Putting a date on that is just contrary to making that decarbonisation occur as quickly as possible," Ms Constable said.
In a statement on their website, the MCA said their Climate Action Plan was made up of two components: an enduring 10 point framework to support three core objectives and a comprehensive three-year rolling workplan with 30 activities.
The plan's three core objectives are:
- Enabling the potential of technology to decarbonise the minerals sector
- Increasing transparency in reporting
- Sharing of practical knowledge on climate responses
"This is a global undertaking of major technological, economic and social challenge in which Australia and the minerals sector will play their part," the statement reads.
"With this plan, the sector acknowledges the critical importance of technology in reducing emissions. The minerals industry works with manufacturing and innovation partners to invent, develop and deploy new techniques and technologies.
"It is clear that the scale of the technology-led transformation required will not occur without the minerals and raw materials provided by the Australian mining sector."
The MCA believes there are real opportunities for minerals such as lithium, cobalt and copper in all forms of transport infrastructure, communications and energy systems.
Australian Conservation Foundation's Gavan McFadzean said the Minerals Council wasn't taking climate change seriously.
"You can't keep digging up coal and gas in Australia ... and think putting a couple of solar panels on a mine site is going to deal with the climate crisis," he told AAP.
He said the plan was meant to handle a PR crisis as the mining industry's reputation kept being dragged down by its coal and gas sectors.
Mr McFadzean pointed to one of the councils' member companies, Rio Tinto, which had pledged to have net-zero emissions by 2050.
He said the council should be helping phase out coal and gas mining as exports drive up global carbon emissions.
With Australian Associated Press