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Major copper producers unveil plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050

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MELBOURNE, March 7 (Reuters) - A group of the world's biggest copper producers said it aimed to slash direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, in a move that could make the sector more attractive to environmentally-conscious investment funds.

With copper demand forecast to double to 50 million tonnes by 2050 from 2020 levels, the International Copper Association's (ICA) roadmap released on Tuesday set a target for members to cut direct and indirect emissions by 30% to 40% by 2030, and by 70% to 80% by 2040, before reaching zero by 2050, it said.

Members include BHP Group Chile's Codelco, Glencore, Freeport-McMoRan, Japan's JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corporation and Poland's KGHM.

There are no members from China, the world's biggest producer of refined copper. The copper producers plan to reduce direct and indirect emissions by decarbonising power supply, improving efficiency and scrap collection. Copper production from scrap metal can typically be done via electricity so is easier to decarbonise.

The ICA's members will also work with customers to reduce their "scope 3" emissions by 10% by 2030, by 30% to 40% by 2040, and by 60% to 70% by 2050, it said.

"These collective ambitions show a clear trajectory to achieving defined emissions reductions of up to 85% by 2050, with the balance to be addressed through advanced technologies and enhanced collaboration," the ICA said.

Emissions produced by the copper industry as a whole represent 0.2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, the average emission intensity of refined copper production was 4.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per tonne of copper, down by 13.4% from 5.4 tonnes of CO2e in 1990.

Given copper's key role in the energy transition and the "ambitious" decarbonisation plans, the sector should be an attractive investment for funds that use environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria, the ICA said.

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Jamie Freed)

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