Meeting competing sustainability demands: Case Study of Vale’s Growing Responsibility
Environmental and sustainability challenges often present themselves as complex, and often competing. How do companies navigate around such complexities to ensure
that in solving one sustainability challenge, they do not inadvertently contribute to another?
The transition to a low-carbon, renewables based economy is seeing the rapid growth of electric vehicles (EV). In 2018 alone, there were more than 5.1 million EVs on the world’s roads, representing a 63% increase from the previous year. Such growth is expected to continue to reach 44 million EV sales per year by 2030 . Yet, while such trends indicate a positive outlook for our energy transition, it also raises concerns on other fronts.
The mining of raw materials needed for EV production, such as nickel, is expected to increase alongside the exponential growth of EVs. Indonesia alone accounts for 63% of the total charge nickel exports in 2017 . As nickel increasingly becomes the foundation for the greener future, there is an imperative for Indonesia’s mining industry to focus increased attention on creating sustainable practices within their operations.
Against this backdrop, nickel mining company Vale Indonesia has committed to incorporating sustainability into the very core of the company’s identity. With a 52 year history within the industry, Vale has developed strong practices to ensure sustainable mining.
In the early years of the Company, Vale built three hydropower plants which currently supply 93% of the smelter’s energy needs. This accounts to close to 38% of the total energy needs to support Vale’s operations in Sorowako, and creates emissions reduction of 500,000 tons of CO2 per year. Other notable efforts include the Company’s integration of mining and post-mining rehabilitation activities, maintaining local biodiversity.
Managing competing sustainability demands often prove to be complex and challenging for businesses. Vale has a long-standing mission to transform natural resources to create
prosperity and contribute to sustainable development. This core identity drives the Company’s commitment to sustainable and responsible nickel production. As the Company enters its fifth decade, Vale sees opportunities like the increase in EV demand as a chance for the Company to rise to the responsibilities of creating a sustainable future, and to leave a strong legacy for future generations.