Clean Technologies Have More Complicated Mineral Requirements Than Fossil Fuels: A Critical Commitment To Transition Critical Minerals

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Everledger CEO Leanne Kemp explores how critical mineral mining should evolve in line with investors’ growing appetite for ESG compliance. At any moment, in any circumstance, a junction appears where we must align ourselves with trust, transparency and truth. Can Providence technology help tell the true stories investors need to read?

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The race is on for the supply of critical minerals and metals that are essential building blocks for future clean energy technologies. The reality is that today’s electric vehicle batteries, electronics batteries, wind turbines, charging stations, solar panels and transmission lines cannot be made without copper, lithium, nickel or cobalt, along with other rare earths.

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Yet, while the opportunities are clear for mining companies and jurisdictions, so are the growing challenges around environmental, social and governmental (ESG) compliance. Consumer demand, government regulation and, perhaps most of all, investor pressure, have focused on green credentials. When the biggest investors like BlackRock
BLK
With more than US$10 trillion (yes trillion) under management, as bad ESG credit takes out, it becomes a need for industry, business, shareholders and governments to listen.

All views from now on should be viewed through a climate lens, especially as investors shop in the Net Zero journey. There is no shortage of capital – it is a lack of supply of bankable projects. Climate risk is investment risk, and the narrow window for governments to reach net-zero targets means investors will need to start upping their portfolios.

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“The call for zero net emissions by 2050 is a major wake-up call for the mining industry,” explained Jeff Howarth, director of the Geological Survey for the Government of Western Australia, a key sector for critical metals, minerals and rare earths. Energy, automotive, aeronautical and defense markets. “How do we actually go negative in carbon emissions, and still meet the world’s needs for vital minerals? It’s a challenging proposition. Clean energy technologies will quadruple by 2040. Battery demand will be nine in the next decade.” 10 times faster.

Price and Origin

Over the past five years, Jeff has seen ESG become more and more important in discussions with investors. “Jurisdictions such as the EU are driving that change with the strengthening of their battery passports and certification by CERA (Certification of Raw Materials) and IRMA (Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance). Suppliers need to prove this faster That they are mining with environmental responsibility, fair labor costs and conditions, as well as benefiting affected communities. Major car OEMs are also coming along, demanding proof of ethical and green mining. It’s all about the price Now, buyers are increasingly willing to pay a premium price knowing that a mineral or metal is ethically mined, sourced, or recycled.”

Tony Knight is the Chief Geologist for the state of Queensland, also in Australia, helping industry become more efficient and effective in the exploration, discovery and development of new mineral supply chains or supplies in general. “There is no doubt that we are going to see substantial changes in the way we find and process minerals to reduce our carbon and water footprint,” he said. “This massive modernization will require a shift to an economics-first approach, with profit being the key and only driver. We have a global problem that resources are being depleted, even as the population is increasing dramatically. Demand will rise.” , while the planet cannot. It means a change to minimize what we take in, and to maximize what we can hold back.

Within the next decade, Tony believes that the origin of a mineral will become as fundamental as its quality. “The purity of the ore cannot simply involve chemical composition. There is a need to describe whether it was obtained from an unattractive part of the world or at a heavy cost to the environment. That origin story is for products such as food and clothing. The mineral sector needs to be a part of social change.”

show no tell

Simply saying you are doing the right thing is no longer enough for investors or regulators. Similarly, the media and consumers are developing a strong feeling for greenwashing. This ability to prove ESG credentials beyond doubt is part of the challenge facing mining companies. “For a long time, we focused on ‘what we supply,'” Tony said. “The ‘how we supply it’ piece is incredibly important these days. That’s what will differentiate suppliers in the future. We’re seeing more urgency to figure out where a product came from and then another within the circular economy.” Tracked its journey in life. This will eventually become business as usual, but quick-moving jurisdictions, industries or regions will benefit from short-term price differences.”

Jeff agrees that more is needed to broadcast a true story that links back to the underlying data and evidence. “In Western Australia, we are moving from diesel to natural gas and renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gases, and to further reduce that footprint there has been an increase in haulage trucks powered by hydrogen or ammonia. Looking to electrify railway lines from ports to ports as well as autonomous mining to reduce the impact on individual safety and performance, while further cutting emissions.How the mining industry contributes to local tribal and rural communities We have a lot of good stories about that too. So, we have those ESG credentials, we don’t talk about them as well as we could.”

He a. welcomed the launch of Blockchain Pilot Program by the Commonwealth Government, which aims to create ‘digital certification’ for critical minerals in the supply chain from extraction to processing and export to global markets. The pilot will help companies in the sector comply with compliance regulations and increase demand for Australian minerals in global markets, while also helping to streamline processes and reduce costs.

“This will be helpful to us as regulators, but also to mining companies, buyers and OEMs who need to know where the metals and minerals come from. Western Australia is an important global supplier of both lithium and nickel. And we’re seeing fingerprinting of both of these important minerals, which is learning from recent progress by the gold mining industry. It’s important for governments to help companies work their way through these ESG and emissions requirements. Help navigate, as they can be quite complicated, especially for small and medium-sized companies.

creating new markets

The pilot shows abundant opportunities for tech companies and entrepreneurs to accelerate the green transition in mining and other sectors. For example, provenance technology can help strengthen domestic mineral supply chains, reduce dependence on foreign minerals, and reduce carbon emissions, helping local industries reach the top of an ethical, sustainable supply chain. .

A flood of investment in green technologies opens doors to innovation, such as the development of alternatives to rare materials that are more abundant, sustainably sourced or more easily recycled, recovered and reused. “We will see technologies introduced to make manufactured goods easier to recycle and new industries generated by the opportunity to recycle minerals. It seems inevitable that governments will demand better utilization of minerals, moving from a linear to circular economy,” Tony said.

However, we are not there yet. While green technologies such as urban mining and the circular economy are beginning to be better understood by industry, we are still in the education stage. “It will take time for the mineral sector to overcome the economic imperative, which obviously cannot be completely abandoned,” Tony acknowledged. “We have to understand that the payback period may not be as short as it used to be. We need more patient capital to run these cycles properly.”

From my own perspective it is also encouraging to see markets such as the London Metals Exchange begin listing “green” metals in a positive, experiential manner where the associated carbon footprint attracts a premium.

nature positive

A big discussion at COP26 was about the carbon tax. Some countries are introducing it, or have already introduced it, and others are sitting on the fence. We are at a crossroads. Do we accept that the price the planet is paying is simply an external cost that is too expensive to deal with? Or could provenance technology play a role in helping establish where taxes should be introduced, and identifying where companies are entitled to exemptions or showing best practices?

I was also interested to learn about the growing discussion in Glasgow about climate financial disclosures and how they are drawing closer to government policy. In recent years, we have seen a fundamental shift in responsibility through first climate-related financial disclosure and now nature-related financial disclosure. The slogan “No Carbon Negative without Nature Positive” was given in many talks.

“We cannot look at nature only as a commodity, but as a finite resource,” Tony said. “The question we need to ask is this: How can we adopt the economics of nature, give the natural environment a value that we haven’t in the past? Certainly, we can avoid situations where It’s cheaper to pump methane into the environment than to manage it. Does that change…

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