Mining Critical to Climate Change Targets

One of the ambitions of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) is to achieve global Net Zero by the middle of this century – an ambition which won’t be achieved unless we phase out our use of fossil fuels, invest more in renewable energy and take practical steps such as switching to electric vehicles.

Achieving this, however, won’t be possible without the global mining sector and the essential minerals it provides.

Five-fold increase in metals needed

The Institute of Geologists of Ireland (IGI) has argued that decarbonising our economy and society “is at the core of the green economy and climate action”. They also make the point that wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy and battery storage are all “reliant on utilising a wide variety of metals and minerals”. These minerals have to be mined.

It’s widely accepted that if the world is to successfully transition to renewable energy and deliver a new Green Industrial Revolution then the supply of metals will have to increase.

Some have suggested that to achieve the Paris Agreement target of just a 1.5°C or lower increase in global temperatures, there will need to be a five-fold increase in the supply of many common metals. Demand for some metals which are integral to renewable technologies is expected to surge.

The scale of global challenge is immense and, as more and more countries commit to ambitious renewable targets (even Saudi Arabia is planning to achieve 50% renewable energy by 2030), the demands on the world’s mining sector will grow and grow.

A key question for government, businesses and consumers is where will these metals come from?

Underpinning a greener future

The IGI couldn’t be clearer about why we need to think strategically about where we source our minerals: “Currently, Europe has to import more than 75% of almost all metals, and up to 100% of some critical minerals. With that comes certain supply risks, such as higher prices that could have an adverse impact on the economy in the event of a serious trade dispute or disruption.”

They also conclude that “More mining in Europe would ensure it takes place under environmentally and socially sound conditions while making the economy more resilient.”

Since 2009, Dalradian has explored for a broad range of minerals in Northern Ireland. Based on that work – plus test mining, engineering and environmental studies – the company has developed an environmentally responsible, carbon neutral (net zero) project to mine copper, silver and gold (metals which lend themselves to a range of highly useful purposes).

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