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Two simple charts show why green energy is all about mining

Image: JACLOU-DL, Pixabay

Lots of ink has been spilled on the green energy transition on these pages.  

In 2019 MINING.COM called Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mining’s unlikely heroines as they were saying that the “exponential expansion of global mining is the dirty little secret – and glaring blind spot – of Green New Deal evangelists and zero-carbon climate warriors.”

Fast forward three years, and there’s still little or no acknowledgement from climate crisis actors for the need for rapidly growing metal and mineral extraction.  The nescience of climateers when it comes to mining remains striking and helps explain the applause for Secretary General António Guterres at the opening of the COP26 summit for these words:

“It is time to say enough! […] enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.”

Fitch Ratings: Metals, Mining Faces Diverse Impact from Energy Transition May 2022

A recent report by Fitch Ratings assessing the risks of climate change to various sectors featured two graphs that vividly illustrates just how central metals and mining is to decarbonization.

The latest UN Forecast Policy Scenario anticipates a substantial increase in electricity generation from renewables – comprising hydro, wind and solar – across all regions.

Renewables are set to be the largest source of power globally by 2050, at 73% of the total compared to 25% in 2020. Wind and solar will increase their share of global renewables generation to 85% by 2050 from 34% in 2020.

Couple this with the metal intensity of renewable energy resources and it is clear that even if the installation of renewable energy capacity falls far short of expectations, the impact on metals and mining would be immense.

Fitch Ratings: Metals, Mining Faces Diverse Impact from Energy Transition May 2022