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Going Green Could Be A $10 Trillion Opportunity For The Mining Industry

Putting nature above business considerations has the potential to generate 395 million jobs and $10.1 trillion in business opportunities by 2030, the latest report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) suggests.

Unprecedented job losses and economic uncertainty following the outbreak of COVID-19 have governments looking into ways to stimulate growth in a safe manner. According to the WEF experts, the answer can be found in what they call a “nature first” approach.

“The global economy is inextricably linked to the health of our planet,” the report says. “How we produce, manufacture, consume and ultimately manage our waste is straining nature’s ability to cope.”

When it comes to mining and power generation, the authors said that nature-positive business  —those that add value to nature — could generate an estimated $3.5 trillion worth of annual value and create 87 million jobs by 2030. 

“Accounting for an estimated 23% of global GDP and 16% of employment, the extraction, production, manufacturing and generation of energy and materials is both a major contributor to global economic growth and a major threat to biodiversity,” the report reads.

The WEF adds that the sector’s negative effects – air pollution and carbon emissions – account for $9 trillion annually, or around 10.5% of global GDP.

Reversing the costly impact, the report asserts, involves improving consumption efficiency to reduce the amount of resources that need to be extracted. It also involves improving how those resources are extracted to minimize their impact on ecosystems while shifting to more renewable energy.

“Supportive regulations – such as those that encourage and support environmentally sound extractives project design, systematic rehabilitation of mining sites, and waste collection and reuse – will be significant in unlocking the value of nature-positive businesses.”

Circular economy

The study is built on real-world examples, where business outcomes have been enhanced by nature-positive outcomes. British multinational automaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) collected and reused around 300,000 tonnes of aluminum between 2013 and 2019.

It translated into a 30% recovery of the 180,000 tonnes of aluminum (JLR) used annually in the six-year period. The initiative has resulted in an overall drop of 46% of carbon emissions in JLR’s global vehicle production operations.

Elion, the first Chinese company to commit to 100% renewables in its operations by 2030, started as a salt chemical engineering business in the Kubuqi Desert of inner Mongolia. Frequent sandstorms damaged production and increased costs in its early years of operation. To combat desertification and sandstorms, Elion developed a comprehensive ecological restoration-based economic system.

The company has already restored nearly 650,000 hectares of desert land, thanks to the construction of sand-protecting barriers, afforestation and the closure of land for natural regeneration. This has allowed the formation of an ecological microclimate in the desert, which is attracting eco-tourists and companies focused on growing medicinal plants.

Source:  The Future of Nature and Business report 

“We can address the looming bio-diversity crisis and reset the economy in a way that creates and protects millions of jobs,” Akanksha Khatri, Head of the Nature Action Agenda at the WEF, said in a statement. 

The transition to a green economy is being fuelled by minerals, with demand for resources projected to double by 2060. It means that the mining sector will play a critical role in the massification of technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels. 

Improving resource recovery in extraction can save up to $225 billion by 2030, the report says. “Mining and oil and gas operations often do not fully utilize all the resources in one site before moving on to new areas, increasing damage to biodiversity. New technologies and more mechanization could enhance material recovery rates by up to 50%.”

Investing in environmental, social and governance (ESG) is currently estimated at over $20 trillion in assets under management, according to Deloitte’s estimates. Companies that fail to deliver value beyond compliance could face financial consequences and a blow to their reputations.

By Mining.com 

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Leave a comment
  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 18 2020 said:
    People of the world need a dose of truth rather than a full bag of exaggerations without proofs if they are to be enlisted in helping to save the planet. The world wants to know the basis of the claim by the World Economic Forum (WEF) that putting nature above business considerations has the potential to generate 395 million jobs and $10.1 trillion in business opportunities by 2030.

    By making such attention-seeking claims, the WEF works on the assumption that it is too big and too grand to be questioned on details. But I am doing exactly that. I, like millions of people around the world, want to see proofs not exaggerated claims.

    The world spent more than $3 trillion during the last decade on renewables to achieve a 1% reduction in the use of coal, something that would have happened on its own volition.

    While it is true that the global economy is inextricably linked to the health of our planet, it is equally true that the global economy and oil and gas are inseparable as the COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably shown that by destroying one, you destroy the other and vice versa. The global economy runs on oil and gas and will continue to do so well into the future.

    Therefore, the claim by the WEF that nature-positive business in relation to mining and power generation could generate an estimated $3.5 trillion worth of annual value and create 87 million jobs by 2030 is unsubstantiated.

    The WEF study gives an example of how British multinational automaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) collected and reused around 300,000 tonnes of aluminum between 2013 and 2019. While this is a commendable achievement, the study fails to point out that militant environmental agitation against building a third runway at Heathrow airport is undermining future increases in the contribution of Heathrow to Britain’s GDP (currently 10%) and therefore adversely impacting the British economy.

    An imminent global transition to global economy from oil and gas to renewables is an illusion. We are currently passing through a period of energy diversification where renewables have to compete with oil and gas and other energy sources for a market share. Oil and gas will continue to be the fulcrum of the global economy and the core business of the mining industry well into the future.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • Lee James on July 18 2020 said:
    Interesting how a major threat coming at us from the natural world is helping us see how we regularly ignore and even disrupt the natural world -- the source of our wealth. Paul Hawken expressed it as "Natural Capital" more than two decades ago. Maybe our world-view, centered around exploitation of the natural world, will see some editing as we are humbled by COVID. Do equate wealth with stuff, or figure out a better way to live on this our finite planet?
  • Steve Bull on July 19 2020 said:
    While there is no such thing as 'Green' energy, there is also no such animal as 'Green' mining. Talk about self-serving drivel...

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