Making the most of already mined elements can help meet future demand while reducing carbon emissions
Greg Dipple wants to turn the waste from nickel mines into large-scale carbon sinks. The idea, which he has developed over two decades, would help reduce the environmental impact of mining for metals that are highly sought after for electric vehicle batteries.
“We can see a pathway towards nickel mining in the future where it produces a net positive environmental benefit from the context of greenhouse gases,” said Dipple, a professor at the University of British Columbia and founder of Carbin Minerals, an environmental services company.
Dipple’s approach would use the tailings — pulverized rock byproduct that comes from extracting metals and minerals from ore — as a giant sponge for carbon in the atmosphere.
Once absorbed, the carbon would become rock and remain in the earth over time in a process known as carbon mineralization. Dipple and his colleagues have already scaled projects to the size of a football field, and have contracted with Canadian ecommerce company Shopify to sequester carbon.
But Dipple said projects like his should be the “last thing” mining companies do. Instead, he said, they should be opting to green their operations more holistically.
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