Sector CE.2 – Mineral Resources – Onshore-Offshore Mining ; Landscape Management
In the New Era of Sustainable Energy Mix one of the key issues that needs to be tackled is the availability of natural mineral resources that should satisfy the demand related to the construction of the devices that are implicated in the transformation process.
Hybrid and battery powered locomotion, as an alternative to petrol and diesel vehicles, is already on its way on a large, global scale. This leads to an impressive increase in demand for a suite of raw materials (e.g. minerals and rare earth elements) for the batteries to store the energy and for the construction of the vehicles themselves (for which also products derived from hydrocarbon are still heavily involved).
A similar need can be identified in the construction of the solar panels and wind turbines in power generation, and still more is required for the continuous increase in smartphones production and other applications.
This increase in demand cannot be met by recycling and therefore there is a need to identify new sources of the critical elements, be it metals or specific minerals. An example is the need for lithium which will show a five- to ten-fold increase during the next decades.
Identification of new sites, the implementation of sustainable mining, landscape management, transport issues, political and legal frameworks, are all involved in the near future developments which are also in need of the application of new technologies.
It is our strong believe that Geoscientists needs to be massively involved in evaluation of all the options, applying decades of G&G experience in the field of mining, surface engineering, and territorial investigation such as remote sensing studies, and fault and fracture modelling.
Elements used in the application of different energy sources through time. From: The Conversation (2018).