Mining as a climate change solution? Absolutely! Mining has the capacity to fuel the innovation of tomorrow and, when done responsibly and sustainably, has incredible potential to positively impact climate change. Mined metals are the foundation for green technologies and renewable energies.
Mining plays a crucial role in producing the minerals and metals required for renewable energy technologies. For instance, minerals such as lithium, graphite, cobalt, and rare earth elements are essential components of batteries used in electric vehicles and energy storage systems. In solar technology, silver plays a vital role in the production of solar cells that produce electricity. By enabling the growth of renewable energy infrastructure, mining contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing innovations that enhance new energy sources.
Similarly, mining provides the raw materials, such as copper, zinc, silver, and gold, necessary for manufacturing energy-efficient technologies, such as LED lighting, efficient appliances, and advanced electronics - many of which are part of our daily lives and have come to be expected as part of a modern society. These technologies can help reduce overall energy consumption and carbon emissions in multiple sectors.
The mining industry has the capacity to help facilitate the development of carbon capture and storage technologies by providing the minerals and metals needed for constructing and maintaining these systems. CCS is considered a critical component in the fight against climate change as it can help mitigate carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes and power plants.
Responsible mining practices can support the transition to a circular economy. This concept aims to minimize waste, extend the lifecycle of products, and encourage recycling and reusing materials.
As demands for sustainable practices increase, mining companies are investing in research and development of cleaner and more energy-efficient methods and technologies that are also environmentally friendly. This can lead to reduced emissions and resource consumption over time.
Many people don’t realize that mining begins with reclamation, that is, today’s mines are first designed with closure and environmental stewardship in mind before applying for permits. Reclamation involves restoring ecosystems, planting trees, and ensuring the land is suitable for other uses.
Alaska law requires an approved reclamation and closure plan before construction begins. The operation must provide financial assurance to ensure the state can access sufficient funds to implement the plan if the company is unable to do so. The plan and amount of financial assurance is reviewed and adjusted every five years or whenever there is a significant change.
Sustainable mining practices ensure responsible resource management throughout the mining lifecycle and provide a path toward a cleaner energy future.