There exists a correlation between the production of renewable energy and mining output that can be seen in the rising demand for nonmetallic and metallic minerals, which is being driven by the demand for batteries and other elements needed for the production of energy from renewables like solar and wind. A recent study conducted by researchers from Oxford University has found that liquid ores may soon become the standard for green mining in the natural resource sector.
As more countries shift to the use of renewable energies in an attempt to reduce emissions and the emphasis on ESG issues grows, it’s only a matter of time before the mining industry turns green by sourcing for minerals and mineral ore from liquid instead of solid earth. Earlier this year, the president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte lifted a nine-year ban on new mining contracts, which not only opens up new mining sites and brings in new investments into the sector but also presents opportunities for green mining in the future.
Experts believe that finding a balance between economic and environmental interest by ensuring that mining is done responsibly and sustainably is crucial for sustainable development. The Oxford study presents a solution that may balance both environmental and economic interests: the possibility of extracting minerals from brine mines. This may become a reality in the next decade or so.
In a press release, the scientists from the institution’s Department of Earth Sciences noted that it was possible to extract minerals from brines, or hot salty fluids, trapped in porous rocks roughly two kilometers below dormant volcanoes. They explained that their green-mining approach could sustainably provide essential metals such as lithium, silver, zinc, gold and copper. The development of this technology for commercial use will be good for local mining in different areas, including the Philippines, which has a lot of dormant and active volcanoes. The use of this technology will also boost volcano mining and eliminate open pit mining, which has detrimental effects on the environment.
In their report, the researchers stated that the brine could be used as a liquid ore to extract minerals through deep wells to the surface. The liquid ore was found to contain various valuable metals, including lithium, copper and gold, with the scientists’ models showing that the brines contained millions of copper tons in particular.
Copper is needed in the transition to net zero, which makes it even more important given its current use in electric vehicles as well as in electricity generation and transmission. The researchers note that achieving net-zero emissions will fuel the demand for natural metal resources, adding that recycling on its own will not be enough to meet this surge in demand. This is why sustainable, low-energy ways to extract minerals are needed.
Given that the technologies and techniques used in mining are ever evolving to address the emerging challenges, it wouldn’t be so hard for sector players such as GoldHaven Resources Corp. (CSE: GOH) (OTCQB: GHVNF) to adapt to extracting metals from liquid ores if such an approach would help to boost sustainability while availing minerals cost-effectively.
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