Mining and the green economy

Radical improvements needed for metal mining to impact climate change as much as it needs to in coming decades.

Reprinted from the July 2019 newsletter of the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation.

Most Canadians recognize the global impact of climate change and acknowledge that in other parts of the world, the effects are CRITICAL. Currently, one of the best ways to stall or even reverse this trend and sustain the global economy is to replace fossil fuels with low carbon electricity. A low-carbon economy will depend on a reliable, low-cost supply of all the metals, especially copper, that facilitate the generation, transmission, storage and manipulation of electricity.


But given the decline in the rate of discovery of sizeable near-surface metal deposits, more metals have to come from high-cost underground mines. If increasing demand for metals drives a rise in prices, it will be harder to drive low-cost carbon out of the economy. What is required is for the global mining sector to find and produce more metals at a lower cost and risk to the environment. This change needs disruptive, transformative innovation in the metal mining sector. If we are going to win the war against carbon, improving the performance of the metal mining sector is the key to winning it.

The metal mining sector is only about 4% of the Canadian economy, but it continues to have a positive and disproportionate influence on the global mining sector. It is an area where Canada has a competitive advantage. A radical improvement in the performance of the metal mining industry is essential if we are to impact climate change significantly within the next two decades. The metal mining sector offers Canada, with 2% of global GDP, a credible and attainable leadership role in combating the global climate crisis.

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