Associated Press journalists Victoria Milko and Dita Alangkara report that demand for critical minerals like nickel and cobalt is surging as climate change hastens a transition to renewable energy, boosting carbon emissions by miners and processors of such materials.
In a nutshell:
A nickel smelter in Sulawesi, Indonesia, operated by global mining company Vale, produces 75,000 tons of nickel annually for various applications, including batteries and electric vehicles. While the smelting process emits greenhouse gases, it's powered by clean hydroelectricity, reducing emissions by over 1.115 million tons of CO2 equivalent annually compared to diesel. As demand for materials like nickel rises for renewable energy technologies, mining companies worldwide are moving towards cleaner energy sources and more sustainable practices, driven by technology advancements, customer pressure, and clean energy policies. This transition is crucial to meet environmental goals while maintaining resource production.
“The finance and investment sector is more tuned in than it ever has before to the environmental and social responsibility of supply chains and their investments in them. And they’re looking at greenhouse gas emissions,” said Aimee Boulanger, executive director of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance. “When the world is recovering from a global pandemic and facing the global crisis of climate change, there’s never been a time when they’ve been more interested in these issues.”
The big picture:
The transition to renewable energy in mining is significant for several reasons. Mining operations are responsible for a substantial share of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it crucial to reduce their environmental and health impacts. As demand for materials like nickel and cobalt surges for renewable energy technologies, maintaining a sustainable and low-carbon supply chain is essential to meet climate goals. Adopting renewable energy sources not only reduces emissions but also attracts green financing, future investors, and aligns with the environmental and social responsibility expectations of consumers and stakeholders.
Read the article at the Associated Press.
Transitioning to renewable energy has multiple environmental, economic and health benefits, particularly since fossil fuel production is responsible for $77 billion in annual US health damages, reports Allison Guy for EHN.