Green Rush panel: Is there willingness to pay a premium for responsibly sourced minerals? ( – April 9, 2024)

(Kitco News) – Environmental, social, governance (ESG) initiatives are further delaying mining projects while critical metals are in high demand, creating tension within the mining industry, says Matt Watson, founder of Precious Metals Commodity Management LLC.

The other problem is that metals necessary for the green transition are difficult to process, namely nickel, cobalt and rare earths. On April 3, Watson recorded an episode of Green Rush with guests James Gavilan, principal of Gavilan Commodities, and Lyle Trytten, president of Trytten Consulting Services. The subject was ESG in the context of scaling responsibly mined minerals.

Watson pulled up a chart from the U.S. Geological Survey showing we will use all our nickel and cobalt reserves by 2050. It takes up to 17 years to develop a mine, longer if ESG criteria must be met. “They’re adding to the timelines, and unfortunately, I think we’re getting into a genre of metals that are dirty,” he said, cueing up nickel processing expert Lyle Trytten.

There are two types of nickel deposits — sulfide and laterite. Sulfides tend to be in North America and Europe, whereas laterite nickel deposits are clustered around the equator. Indonesia is by far the largest nickel producer. Nickel mined there is processed using high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL), which generates less air pollution than traditional smelting but creates fine tailings (2-10 microns) that are difficult to dispose of.

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