CLIMATE-SMART MINERALS EXTRACTION

May 1, 2019, Washington: ‘The World Bank supports a low-carbon transition where mining is climate-smart and value chains are sustainable and green. Developing countries can play a leading role in this transition: developing strategic minerals in a way that respects communities, ecosystems and the environment. Countries with strategic minerals have a real opportunity to benefit from the global shift to clean energy’. Riccardo Puliti, Senior Director and Head of the Energy and Extractives Global Practice at the World Bank. On the launch by the World Bank of a USD 50 million facility to fund climate-smart mineral extraction projects.

In June 2017 the World Bank published a report on ‘The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low Carbon Future’. The minerals and metals identified as being strategic in this context were aluminium (bauxite), cobalt, copper, iron ore, lead, lithium, nickel, manganese, the platinum group of metals, rare earth metals, silver, steel, titanium and zinc. The question for New Zealand when thinking about this report is not whether it has the minerals. Because it does. And many of them are located offshore. On the seabed or in and around our sea mounts.

The question for New Zealand is not so much the resources. It is about whether it wishes to seize the opportunity to benefit from the global drive towards clean energy. It is about whether it wishes to join with other countries in the development of the ocean extractive technologies, governance, knowledge and strategies developing in the context of the global shift towards low-carbon futures. And many if not all of our Pacific Island neighbours and other countries in the region are facing similar questions.   

To help frame up these questions we have invited a guest blog from Dr Neil Loftus, Chairman of CASS Offshore Minerals Limited. In responding, Neil develops on the themes in our earlier blogs on ‘The Resource Challenges of Moving to Net Carbon Zero’ and ‘New Zealand Oceans’ Economy in Decline’. Neil writes:

Worldwide, countries are taking steps to decarbonize their economies by using wind, solar and battery technologies, with an end goal of reducing carbon-emitting fossil fuels from the energy mix. In order for the transition to renewables to be meaningful and to achieve significant reductions in the Earth’s carbon footprint, mining will have to better mitigate its own environmental and social impacts. This global transition also has a trade-off: to cut emissions more minerals are needed to build renewable energy infrastructure. Advocates for renewable energy technology understand these impacts and between environmental opponents and capital extremists there is a need to find a common ground. CASS Offshore Minerals Limited is committed to working with others to that end.

A regulatory framework can help governments meet their targets and manage the impacts of the next wave of mineral demand. Carbon Zero Minerals Limited (a division of CASS Offshore) is ready to meet the requirements of the transition to a low-emissions Aotearoa New Zealand. The transition has already begun and for some this will entail considerable financial losses with stranded, unproductive oil and gas assets being forced out of the green economy and ultimately written off.

We look to achieve our ambitions by finding the common ground and by developing the New Zealand offshore minerals estate in an environmentally conscionable way. This includes new concepts in submersible (invisible), remotely operated, plume free, noise supressed dredging technology. Fossil-fuel free energy sources (Hydrogen) for our clean plant and the emission free production of metal products for sale and job creation. Including: Vanadium and Niobium for batteries, and Iron and Titanium for wind turbines.

CASS Offshore and Carbon Zero Minerals Limited is an early adopter of Adaptive Management policy and looks to merge enterprise and community in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy with the acceptance that more minerals will be required to achieve this goal (Climate Smart Mining). We are taking a cautious approach and seeking to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects. We aim to start small, so that the effects on the environment can be monitored and will employ flexible decision making, adjusted in the face of uncertainties as outcomes become better understood. In time, we will deliver at scale and with zero emissions!

We cannot do this on our own but we can focus on leadership, both at home and internationally, guiding the way to a productive, sustainable and climate-resilient economy to benefit our just and inclusive society.

Dr Neil Loftus 

Chairman / https://czm.nz  CASS Offshore & Carbon Zero Minerals Limited 7A Rosedale Office Park, 331 Rosedale Rd, Auckland 0632. ‘We are Carbon Zero’.

NOTE: The New Zealand Oceans Foundation (www.oceansnz.com) has been established to promote nation-wide debate and discussion on the economic and environmental issues connected with the prudent use of our ocean resources. It welcomes guest blogs and commentary from all those who share its vision of stewardship and responsible development of the resources in New Zealand’s maritime estate.

Part of this guest blog is based on a World Bank initiative called ‘Climate Smart Mining’ (https://youtu.be/XkTCD4mQtAo). This short 2:56 minute video highlights the 4 key requirements that the World Bank believes must be met by countries pursuing climate smart mining. These are: good governance; knowledge; capacity; and strategy. The question for New Zealand is whether we are willing and able to work with others to build these requirements as a necessary accompaniment to the impending move towards climate smart mining in the Pacific region as a prerequisite of the global shift towards clean energy.

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