Sustainable Minerals and Metals for a Low-Carbon Future

Science 367 (6473) (January 3, 2020), pp. 30-33

12 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2020

See all articles by Benjamin K. Sovacool

Benjamin K. Sovacool

Science Policy Research Unit; Department of Business Technology & Development

Saleem Ali

University of Delaware; University of Queensland, School of Politics and Sustainable Minerals Institute; Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

Morgan Bazilian

Colorado School of Mines

Ben Radley

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - London School of Economics

Benoit Nemery

KU Leuven

Julia Okatz

System IQ

Dustin R Mulvaney

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: January 3, 2020

Abstract

Climate change mitigation will create new natural resource and supply chain opportunities and dilemmas, because substantial amounts of raw materials will be required to build new low-carbon energy devices and infrastructure. However, despite attempts at improved governance and better corporate management, procurement of many mineral and metal resources occurs in areas generally acknowledged for mismanagement, remains environmentally capricious, and, in some cases, is a source of conflict at the sites of resource extraction. These extractive and smelting industries have thus left a legacy in many parts of the world of environmental degradation, adverse impacts to public health, marginalized communities and workers, and biodiversity damage. We identify key sustainability challenges with practices used in industries that will supply the metals and minerals—including cobalt, copper, lithium, cadmium, and rare earth elements (REEs)—needed for technologies such as solar photovoltaics, batteries, electric vehicle (EV) motors, wind turbines, fuel cells, and nuclear reactors. We then propose four holistic recommendations to make mining and metal processing more sustainable and just and to make the mining and extractive industries more efficient and resilient.

Keywords: minerals, metals, energy transitions, energy, climate

Suggested Citation

Sovacool, Benjamin K. and Ali, Saleem and Bazilian, Morgan and Radley, Ben and Nemery, Benoit and Okatz, Julia and Mulvaney, Dustin R, Sustainable Minerals and Metals for a Low-Carbon Future (January 3, 2020). Science 367 (6473) (January 3, 2020), pp. 30-33, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3513313 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3513313

Benjamin K. Sovacool (Contact Author)

Science Policy Research Unit ( email )

Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/profiles/373957

Department of Business Technology & Development ( email )

Nordre Ringgade 1
Aarhus C, DK-8000
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://pure.au.dk/portal/en/persons/id(fca10105-c4eb-4f0f-99a7-a354a8a8a47a).html

Saleem Ali

University of Delaware ( email )

Newark, DE 19711
United States
8023380440 (Phone)
8023380440 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.saleemali.net

University of Queensland, School of Politics and Sustainable Minerals Institute ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia
+61478876032 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saleem_Ali_%28academic%29

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://ccsi.columbia.edu/about-us/fellows-interns/

Morgan Bazilian

Colorado School of Mines ( email )

Golden, CO 80401
United States

Ben Radley

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - London School of Economics ( email )

United Kingdom

Benoit Nemery

KU Leuven ( email )

Oude Markt 13
Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant 3000
Belgium

Julia Okatz

System IQ ( email )

Dustin R Mulvaney

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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