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Energy and greenhouse gases

Although we’re an energy intensive industry, we support current international action on climate change. We recognise that we have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint while also meeting society’s need for zinc and other resources as reflected in our Position Statement on Climate Change and Energy.

The truth is, our zinc smelters are amongst the most energy efficient in the industry, and we continually investigate ways in which we can make them even better.

Both zinc and lead make an important contribution to sustainable development and reducing CO2 emissions: zinc through the galvanising of steel to prevent corrosion and extend its useful life; and lead through batteries, which power electric vehicles and facilitate the storage of electricity from alternative energy sources.

Energy represents over 35 per cent of Nyrstar’s operating costs – in 2010 costing us over €250 million. Being in an industry that competes globally on cost structure, and with a cost curve that is relatively flat, even small changes in our operating costs can significantly affect our competitiveness.

So any increase in our energy costs due to emissions trading schemes, particularly for electricity, will have a marked economic impact on our business. (Most of our greenhouse gas emissions relate to the electricity we use rather than from direct emissions from our production plants, so our carbon footprint is in fact highly dependent on the regional electricity generation source.)

We are actively engaged in dialogue with governments who are considering, or have already implemented, greenhouse gas emission trading schemes in the countries in which we operate, to ask that transitional measures be applied to our operations until all of the world’s zinc producers face similar carbon constraints and costs.

But we recognise the fact that how we resolve the issue of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to the long term sustainability of our business.

We publicly report on our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions: