Air Emissions and Energy

Air Emissions and Energy

Why are air emissions and energy important?

Mining is an energy-intensive industry. Mines consume energy through extraction, production, and transportation of products. Energy use, particularly through fuel combustion and electricity consumption, causes greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which contribute to climate change. Dust generated by activities, such as blasting and ore crushing, can potentially affect air quality if not properly managed. For Pan American Silver, reducing emissions and energy use provides us with cost savings and environmental benefits within and beyond our operating boundaries.

Material TopicAir emissions and energy
Sub-TopicAir and GHG emissions management
Energy use
DefinitionReducing our energy consumption and managing air and greenhouse gas emissions
Feedback From COIsIndustry associations, regulators, and NGOs are prioritizing improved disclosure and reductions in GHG emissions.
How We’re RespondingWe are members of the World Economic Forum’s Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders.

We reduced our energy use compared to business-as-usual through improvements to pumping systems (San Vicente), and ventilation control systems and our energy supply substation (Huaron).

Our Approach

We continually search for ways to improve the energy efficiency at our operations and development projects. Specific to air emissions and energy, our management approach includes:

Programs and Initiatives

  • TSM Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Protocol – Sites have self-assessed against the protocol and are in the process of developing improvement plans. 
  • Dust suppression programs – All our operations have dust suppression systems and active management of dust sources from mobile transport.

Monitoring

  • Energy and fuel monitoring – We monitor energy and fuel use at all operations and estimate our greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis. Our Mexican operations report independently audited greenhouse gas inventories to national authorities.
  • Dust and air quality monitoring – To comply with relevant air quality standards at our operations, we conduct regular dust monitoring around our operations and also monitor the air quality of laboratory and refinery air extraction emissions. 

Our performance

Energy Use and GHG emissions

We use energy to mine, move, and process ore and waste rock as well as for mine ventilation and dewatering. The type and quantity of emissions from our operations are determined by the energy source and how efficiently we use this energy. The energy used at our sites comes principally from diesel fuel or regionally grid-sourced electricity. Grid-energy is cleaner and more efficient than onsite power generation, which does not include a renewable energy component. 

We continually search out ways to improve the energy efficiency of our operations and have implemented power-line connections and improvements to mine ventilation systems over the past few years to achieve that goal. 

We were successful in permitting a new waste rock facility at our Dolores mine which will reduce GHG emissions over the life of mine by 25,500 tonnes
CO2 equivalent compared to the current waste rock facility configuration.

Potential risks and impacts

  • New energy regulations and rising energy costs
  • Physical risks of climate change, including extreme weather events and resource shortages
  • Human health and environmental impacts

Related SDGs

Key sources of GHG emissions at our mine sites

Air Emissions

In 2018, our sites completed dust and laboratory fume monitoring in accordance with best practice. The results complied with relevant air quality regulations. We did not receive any dust-related community complaints through our grievance system in 2018.

GHG Emissions intensity

The more ore we process at our sites, the more energy we use. Also, as our mines become deeper, more energy is required for mine ventilation and dewatering and more fuel is required to haul ore and waste rock over greater distances. We track the intensity of our GHG emissions (emissions per tonne of ore processed), to help us gauge the overall energy efficiency of our processes and the effects of using cleaner grid energy.

Our GHG emission intensity did not change between 2017 and 2018. The increased emissions from the deepening of our mines and the operation of the pulp agglomeration plant at Dolores were largely offset by the closure of the Alamo Dorado mine and a reduction in emission intensity at Manantial Espejo, where ore stockpiles were the predominant feed to the mill. 

GHG Emissions Intensity(1)

(1) The GHG Emissions intensity was calculated using the total GHG emissions divided by Tonnes of ore milled. The National Inventory Report Canada 2018 was used to calculate Direct (Scope 1) GHG emissions. The global warming potential (GWP) is based on the information provided by the Government of Canada. Gasses included in this calculation are CO2, CH4 and N2O.

Next steps

  • Continue to implement the TSM Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions protocol at all sites and look for opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emission intensity.
  • Develop an Energy Use and Air Emissions Corporate Environmental Standard.

Click here to see additional energy and emissions performance data: 

302-1 Energy consumption within the organization
305-1 Direct greenhouse gas emissions
305-2 Indirect greenhouse gas emissions