Iron ore is unloaded from a vessel docked at Zhoushan Port, Zhejiang province, on March 5. [Photo by JIANG XIAODONG/FOR China DAILY]

Mining giant BHP Group anticipates more growth opportunities in China thanks to the country’s high-quality urbanization, a top company official said.

China’s future is one of increasing opportunities and prosperity, and one of the most important contributions that BHP can make to China is ensuring that the commodities we produce are supplied to our customers as reliably and as efficiently as possible,” said Mike Henry, CEO of BHP Group Ltd, during an interview on Tuesday.

“BHP remains invested in and committed to China’s continued urbanization and ongoing prosperity. Given our long and valued history with our many partners in China, I am confident that BHP can help further advance the economic, industrial and environmental aspirations in China’s next 30 years of urbanization.”

Henry said that to keep pace with the development of renewable technologies such as electric vehicles and solar energy, copper production will have to double over the next 30 years and that for nickel will have to increase nearly fourfold to power the next generation of battery technology.

As one of the major global suppliers of nickel, BHP is positioned to support the growth of electric vehicles in China, the world’s largest auto market, and continue to support China’s next stage of rapid development that will come with a lower environmental footprint with the power mix to shift from one dominated by coal to low-carbon sources, he said.

According to the Anglo-Australian company, China’s urbanization to date and the rise in living standards for the Chinese people are part of the greatest accomplishments the world has ever seen. The future also presents significant opportunities for the Chinese people and for the outside world, as well as for China’s next phase of economic and social development.

Having done business with China for some 120 years, BHP said China is a major market for BHP’s diversified portfolio of commodities and the company has shipped 2 billion metric tons of iron ore to support China’s remarkable growth story.

China is also an increasingly significant supplier of goods and services to the company, including equipment machinery, rolling stock and other goods for its global mining operations, he said.

The company believes China’s steady long-term development plans, including Beijing’s 2035 vision and the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), have provided certainty for BHP’s long-term goals.

In September, China announced its pledge to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Analysts said China has the capability to advance economic growth at the same pace while protecting the environment, and new demand for copper and nickel, driven by greener technologies and product innovations, is also fueling momentum in the country.

“Greater investment in processes to tackle climate change may spur higher metal intensity in applications, as countries and companies worldwide accelerate efforts to meet carbon-emission targets and drive infrastructure investment over the decade,” said Zhu Yi, a senior analyst for metals and mining at Bloomberg Intelligence.

“This involves new-energy vehicles, consumer products and the renewable-energy generation segment, where higher metal consumption promotes sustainability,”Zhu said.

Creating and securing more options in future-facing commodities-such as copper and nickel-remains a priority for the company. China, as well as the rest of the world, will need such raw materials in increasing quantities to support the transition to a cleaner energy future, Henry said.

With a goal to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2050 and reduce operational emissions by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030, BHP has launched two partnerships with China Baowu Steel Group and HBIS Group to invest in low-emission technologies to reduce emissions in steelmaking.

It has also recently partnered with Automotive Data of China Co, a subsidiary of the China Automotive Technology and Research Center, to better promote energy saving, low-carbon and green development required as electric vehicles become more prevalent. The findings from this research will help drive adoption of EVs in the Chinese transport sector, said BHP.