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MiningWatch in the News

Podcast: Does mining fit into a clean energy future?

Source: 
Mongabay

by  on 30 September 2020

  • Combating climate change will require rapidly deploying renewable energy while reducing our use of fossil fuels. But renewable energy technologies like wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, and electric vehicles require large amounts of mined metals and minerals.
  • That poses a problem, because the mining process creates significant environmental impacts, from air and water pollution to deforestation, and has led to numerous conflicts with local communities. And now, there’s a concerted effort underway by the mining industry to open up vast areas of the ocean floor to minerals mining. If we’re not careful about how we meet the growing demand for minerals, it could actually imperil the promises of the transition to clean energy.
  • To help us dive into all of this, we speak with Ian Morse, a journalist who follows the minerals mining and clean energy beat closely. We also speak with Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, who discusses the threats posed by deep sea mining and tells us why more mining may not be the best way to meet the demand for minerals.

On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we look at whether or not mining is compatible with the clean energy revolution.

Listen here:

In order to rein in global climate change, we need to ramp up renewable energy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But the technologies that will drive the transition to clean energy require large amounts of mined metals and minerals — things like copper, used for wiring and electric motors, lithium and cobalt, used in batteries, and rare earth elements used in everything from solar cells and wind turbines to electric cars.

The mining process, however, creates significant amounts of air and water pollution and deforestation, and has led to numerous conflicts with local communities. These impacts of mining, of course, are not consistent with the goals of ushering in a new era of clean, green energy. And as deployment of renewable energy technologies increases in the coming years, demand for minerals will only continue to skyrocket — so much so that a concerted effort by the mining industry is underway to open up vast areas of the ocean floor to minerals mining, despite how little we know about the ecosystems under the ocean’s surface. If we’re not careful about how we meet the growing demand for minerals, it could actually imperil the promises of the transition to clean energy.

To help us dive into all of this, we speak with Ian Morse, a journalist who follows the minerals mining and clean energy beat closely. Morse is here to talk about his recent reports for Mongabay, which help illustrate some of the most pressing issues with mining today.

We also speak with Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, who discusses the threats posed by deep sea mining and tells us why more mining may not be the best way to meet the demand for minerals.

Here are some of the reports for Mongabay discussed with Ian Morse in this episode:

• On an island coveted by miners, villagers prepare to raise a ruckus
• Indonesian miners eyeing EV nickel boom seek to dump waste into the sea
• Locals stage latest fight against PNG mine dumping waste into sea
• Mining industry releases first standard to improve safety of waste storage

You can read more about the impacts of deep-sea mining in this article, which features quotes from Catherine Coumans:

• Sediment plumes from deep-sea mining could pollute vast swaths of the ocean, scientists say

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Bingham Canyon Mine, a copper mine in Utah, United States. Photo by Timjarrett, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Featured Image: Electric cars charging. Image by (Joenomias) Menno de Jong from Pixabay.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001