Researchers reveal that the present supply of minerals and metals will not be able to support a universal economy that’s producing net zero carbon emissions. These experts argue that the rates of extraction of these resources has to be increased, even if it’s only in the short term, adding that in due course, recycling on a large scale should be able to meet the demand for critical minerals such as lithium.
While mining initiatives are usually not well received given the negative effects the action can have on both health and the environment, Richard Herrington and his fellow researchers believe that a discussion on where and how these extractions will be done needs to be had.
Herrington, who is head of earth sciences at the UK-based Natural History Museum, stated in an interview that moves had to be made quickly, even if the increase in mining was only for the short term, as carbon dioxide emissions would be a problem in the coming years.
Governments across the globe have been setting goals to ensure that they have net zero contribution to emissions, which will prompt an increase in the use and adoption of renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind, while the use of internal combustion engines in vehicles is gradually eliminated. For example, the United Kingdom has set targets to ensure that by 2030, all new vehicles operating in the country will be electric. However, for this switch to occur, the UK would need roughly 2 million tons of copper, 7,000 tons of dysprosium and neodymium, 260,000 tons of lithium carbonate and 200,000 tons of cobalt.
This makes up more than half of the total amount of lithium produced globally, the total global annual production of neodymium and the current global production of cobalt. Lithium is used in battery electrolytes, neodymium is utilized in the manufacture of electric motor magnets, and cobalt is utilized in battery electrodes.
The researchers stated that replacing all the internal combustion engine cars in the world, which number more than a billion, would require 40 times these amounts. They noted that this was before mineral and metal requirements of solar farms and wind turbines were taken into account.
Presently, minerals and metals are often obtained from nations that aren’t the primary consumers of the end products. This presents additional challenges, as countries may not want to raise their extraction rates. Additionally, other mining modes, such as mining on the seafloor, is contentious as evidence has shown that deep sea mining may damage the marine environment.
One mineral that is likely to play an increasingly important role as the world turns to greener forms of energy is uranium, and firms that are the leading producers of this source of clean energy, such as Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR), are likely to see enhanced investor interest going forward.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/UUUU
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