Can we really close the mines?

All - Sep 06 2018

The increase in the complexity of metal assemblages in generic products

Following progress and technological developments, human objects are increasingly ingenious. The mineral resources necessary to produce one object accordingly grow in number and diversity.

Power generation is a striking example. In 1700, a windmill could be built with a reduced number of metals – mainly lead, copper, zinc and iron. Today’s power generation technologies, including low-carbon technologies such as photovoltaic panels or eoliennes, use numerous new resources – such as lithium, cobalt and nickel, to cite but a few. Rare metals are prized for their unique properties and used in an increasing number of technologies, from smart appliances to electric cars. Going forward with the energy transition calls for strong developments in such “green” technologies, which leads to an increasing demand in mineral resources.”

This means that tremendous improvements need to be made in material recycling and that mining industries will become ever more needed in a low-carbon world. Yet, mining is well known to cause major environmental impacts and is often linked to social issues such as child labor, rights abuses and armed conflicts. To address the already high demand in minerals and the even stronger demand to come, closing mines may therefore not be a possible choice. More effort and investments are necessary to help reduce their overall impact and better integrate them into a sustainable future.

 

Claire Hugo, Analyst  –  Sources: Beyond Ratings, Hal-BRGM – Guyonnet et al.

 

 

 

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