The ‘green’ economy will need massive amounts of metals and while reusing materials such as copper, steel and aluminium are critical to global metals supply, there just isn’t enough scrap to keep up with demand. But there also aren’t a sufficient number of mines in development to keep up with forecast needs, especially as the metals-intensive energy transition ramps up.
One recently announced solar project in Australia demonstrates just how much copper the energy transition could need. Sun Cable plans to export electricity to Singapore from the Northern Territory through a 4,200km undersea cable.
The copper needed for this, as forecast by Liberum, is between 225,000 and 700,000 tonnes, meaning the raw materials alone would cost between $2.1bn and $6.6bn at the current spot price. This would be the longest cable of its kind – five times the length of the Norway-UK interconnector, for example – but this type of infrastructure is badly needed for the shift away from fossil fuel power, given much of the world (including Southeast Asia) relies on coal power.
At the same time, the forces pushing the world to cleaner energy generation are also raising the standards for mines, looking at carbon emissions and environmental damage and listening more to local communities. The Cop 26 agreement on forests should also make permitting for new mines tougher, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie.
For the rest of this article: https://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/news/2021/12/07/we-can-t-recycle-our-way-to-a-green-economy/