UN Secretary General’s Call to End Mining Fell on Deaf Ears at the COP26 Summit

UN Secretary General, former Portugal PM António Gutie made an appeal at the opening ceremony of COP26 to stop mining completely before it stops us. Gutierres’ speech was indeed emotional and inspiring. However, it lacks information about the importance of mining and the role it plays in achieving the global goal of net zero carbon emissions.

Mining Experts Say Fighting Climate Change without Mining is an Impossible Mission

Apparently  the UN Secretary General did not refer to  the International Energy Agency’s annual World Energy Outlook, regarded as the bible about the world’s energy. As guidebook to all the participants in the Conference of Parties (COP26) the report was released early and ahead of the assembly.

In the presentation, there are six pages in Section 6.3.1 which headlines critical minerals and of  how the demand for them will increase  the demand in line with the decarbonization goals Efforts to transition into clean energy includes quick deployment of low-carbon technologies that require the six critical minerals

Earth elements cobalt, manganese, nickel, lithium, copper and graphite are essential to energy to battery longevity, energy density and performance. These rare earth elements are also crucial to Electric Vehicle motors and wind turbines particularly copper, when it comes to technologies related to electricity. Huge amounts of copper alongside aluminum are essential materials in electricity networks.

Fossil fuel-based technologies compared to wind farms, electric vehicles (EVs), and solar photovoltaic (PV) plants use more minerals. For example, electric cars usually use six times the mineral inputs of a traditional car while onshore wind plants use nine times more than its fossil fuel-based counterpart.

SVP of Woodmac’s metals and mining division Julian Kettle, together with senior analyst Kamil Wlazly provided answers to inquiries about the availability of critical minerals supply. Woodmac also explained that mining has a significant role in combatting climate change to  attain global net zero carbon emission. Everything is connected to base metals supply and it is unavoidable.

In order to achieve faster energy transition, base metals capex has to be multiplied four times to around $2 trillion. Energy transition begins and stops with metals while copper is at the center of all. In order for net-zero 2050 to succeed, as many as 19 billion tonnes of additional copper should be discovered annually for the next two decades.