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The world needs critical minerals and Australia has them, but consumers don’t want a ‘dirty’ electric car or cheap labour in their solar panels. As the worldwide push for electrification intensifies, requirements for sustainable production are also in a race to the top.
The Global Battery Alliance, a collaboration between public and private enterprise, wants to shake up the supply change. It is working on a traffic-light rating system that would prove an individual battery’s source – from specific mine sites to processing, manufacturing and delivery to the car yard. There should also be a way to get bonus points for wins on biodiversity and community, alliance deputy chair Stephen D’Esposito told a recent mining conference.
BHP chief technical officer Laura Tyler said the world was starting to wake up to the role of the resources sector in supporting global trends that were changing the world.
But in the decades ahead what remains will be trickier to find, more difficult to mine or located in more challenging areas, she warned the World Mining Congress in Brisbane.
“We have to produce those commodities in those locations with less – less energy, less water, less waste, less disruption – a fraction of the impacts traditionally caused by intensive mining activity,” she said. Ms Tyler said power could have zero greenhouse gas emissions with nuclear energy part of the baseload mix.
Martin Perez de Solay, CEO of rapidly growing producer Allkem, said lithium would not exist as a business without the global commitment to act on climate change. But without high environmental, social and governance standards as mining expands, the world won’t mitigate climate risks. “No one wants a ‘sustainable’ electric vehicle made from unsustainable minerals,” Mr Perez de Solay said. Investors also need to trust operators who use their capital for an important and aggressive pipeline of projects.