Faster decarbonisation: back to basics for the mining industry? – by Julian Kettle (Wood Mackenzie – November 2, 2021)

Julian Kettle is Senior Vice President, Vice Chair Metals and Mining at Wood Mackenzie.

To the uninitiated, rugby is a technical and complicated game. As young schoolboys it was all a wee bit confusing and we invariably ended up on the wrong side of the score line. However, we had a wonderful Welsh coach called Billy, who, when the chips were down, would always roll out his go-to phrase: “back to basics!”

These wise words seem quite pertinent right now. With COP26 underway, the world awaits tangible evidence that the huge expense and carbon footprint of the conference will be worthwhile. With that in mind, delegates do need to go back to basics in terms of what must be achieved: clear commitments that will put us on the pathway to net zero.

Of course, many will collectively shrug their shoulders, expecting nothing to change as a result of COP26. As the wonderful French phrase has it, plus ça change – the more things change, the more they stay the same. Unfortunately, though, maintaining the status quo is not an option this time.

Beware of the mining talent gap

I’ve previously highlighted the implausibility of carbon emission reduction by 2030 that is consistent with achieving net zero by 2050. The deck is very much stacked against mining companies, who are aware of the challenges of developing supply, yet investors, policy-makers and wider society are seemingly unwilling to assist in enabling faster development. Greater recycling will undoubtedly be part of the solution, but primary extraction will carry the lion’s share of the load.

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