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Rio Tinto to fully transition Kennecott copper operation to renewable diesel from HF Sinclair


Photo: Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto announced Dec. 5 that it will replace its entire fossil-diesel consumption with renewable diesel at its Kennecott copper operation in Utah beginning in 2024.



Kennecott’s fleet of 90 haul trucks and all heavy machinery will begin to transition to renewable diesel in the first quarter of 2024, along with consumption from the concentrator, smelter and refinery.



The transition will reduce Kennecott’s scope 1 carbon emissions by approximately 495,000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year, comparable to eliminating the annual emissions of more than 107,000 passenger cars.



The renewable diesel is made from renewable biogenic materials sourced in the United States.



It will be supplied through the existing diesel supply chain, as part of a continuing partnership between Kennecott and HF Sinclair.



“Transitioning Kennecott completely to renewable diesel builds on a suite of decarbonization initiatives that have reduced carbon emissions from the operation by 65 percent since 2019,” said Clayton Walker, chief operating officer at Rio Tinto Copper. “This is an important next step in our commitment to finding new and better ways to reduce operational emissions, while producing materials essential to the global energy transition.”



Steven Ledbetter, executive vice president for commercial at HF Sinclair, added, “As a long-time supplier of Rio Tinto and a fellow operator in the Rocky Mountain region, we are pleased to support Rio Tinto’s sustainability journey with a low-carbon fuel made at our facilities. This is a great step demonstrating our continued progress to meet the evolving energy needs of our customers.”



Rio Tinto is targeting reductions in scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions of 50 percent by 2030 and net zero by 2050.



“Combined with Rio Tinto's U.S. Borax operation, which completed the full transition of its heavy machinery from fossil diesel to renewable diesel in May, this initiative would replace 11 percent of Rio Tinto’s global fossil-diesel consumption with renewable diesel,” said Jonathon McCarthy, Rio Tinto’s chief decarbonization officer. “The use of drop-in fuel such as renewable diesel will allow Rio Tinto to reduce emissions in the short term, complementing ongoing work towards the commercial readiness of longer-term technical solutions such as battery-electric haul trucks.”



The decision to convert to renewable diesel comes after a successful seven-month trial at Kennecott’s Bingham Canyon mine.



This trial was conducted in collaboration with Cummins to test renewable diesel in different operational environments and on different equipment, which supported the decision of original-equipment manufacturers to approve the use of renewable diesel in their equipment.

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