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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

The ‘greening’ of the mining industry – a stepping stone towards net zero


8 min read

Aerial view over open mining pit, showing different terraced levels Photo: Adobe Stock
The Bingham Canyon open pit copper mine, Utah – minerals harvested from mined rock are core ingredients to enable the global transition towards a greener future

Photo: Adobe Stock

Tackling the looming supply squeeze for minerals is pivotal to achieving net zero. But a multi-faceted, often challenging, road lies ahead, explains Michelle Meineke.

Using supersized diggers to gouge tonnes of virgin rock from the earth may not seem synonymous with a greener future, yet they are intricately linked. The minerals harvested from mined rock are core ingredients to enable the global transition towards a greener future – the energy industry’s biggest overhaul yet. Solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries are among the workhorses required to make net zero a reality worldwide.


What was once a niche part of the mining ecosystem is now moving more centre stage. The market size for key energy transition minerals has doubled over the last five years, reaching $320bn in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) – similar to the market for iron ore mining. The financial clout behind energy transition minerals is also climbing fast. Despite headwinds in the wider venture capital sector, critical minerals start-ups raised a record $1.6bn in 2022, marking a 160% year-on-year increase.


Plus, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the US – the largest climate investment in the nation’s history – will likely propel appetite in energy transition minerals from what is already a significant investor. That the IEA released its inaugural Critical Minerals Market Review last year also reflects how buy-in across the energy sector has turned a corner.


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