The second Future Minerals Forum (FMF), hosted by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, is publishing a range of academic papers into the future of mining and the ways in which the industry might reform.
The theme is explored in a challenging report by Peter Bryant, chair of both the Development Partner Institute, and Clareo. He argues that mining must reform itself in fundamental ways: how it extracts minerals and metals; presents itself to the world, and explains its role in fighting climate change and contributing to the goal of net zero emissions.
The paper urges the minerals and metals industry to continue deep research and champion innovation not only in order to boost performance and sustainability in mining techniques but also to reduce the impact on the environment. Now is the time to reach out further to educate the public that mining is integral to the fight against climate change.
While society increasingly demands clean energy, many people do not realise that the raw materials needed to power electric vehicles, microchips, solar panels and rechargeable batteries, all come from the extraction of precious minerals and metals like lithium, cobalt, copper and graphite. Without copper, for example, windfarms cannot operate.
Sitting on untapped mineral reserves of $1.3 trillion, Saudi Arabia could spearhead new thinking by embracing new mining techniques, and as a direct consequence, extend its caring image to reconnect the global industry with communities and stakeholders, convincing them of the fundamental benefits that minerals and metals bring. “We need to turbo-charge the investment in innovation to position mineral development as the catalyst for economic prosperity”, the paper urges.
Mr Bryant argues that mining must be more of a “giver” than a “taker”. It must take bigger steps to show communities, governments and stakeholders how the industry benefits societies, boosts decarbonization and fights climate change.
A global roadmap will create the foundation and necessary partnerships for strong strategy and clear action. This approach assures that the burdens are not carried by those who can least afford to bear them, and that the benefits do not go to a chosen few. Instead, it will create long-term, equitable, and sustainable prosperity.
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