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The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are more important than ever

BY MICHAEL WURMSER
FOUNDER, COO & DEPUTY CEO OF NORGE MINING

2020 was meant to be the start of a ‘decade of delivery’ for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – with a target date of 2030 for many global economic and environmental changes to take hold.

Then Covid-19 struck, delivering a potential blow to these pressing goals. While the climate crisis may ostensibly be a slower moving enemy than the whirlwind of the current pandemic, it’s arguably a greater long-term threat. It’s vital that SDG stakeholders continue to push the agenda forward.

With many of the world’s industry and commercial businesses in forced lockdown, there’s actually been a sharp fall in C02 emissions. But, as more ‘normal’ economic activity is resumed, greater effort will be needed to prevent climate inaction. The UN is warning that, ‘without additional commitments to decarbonization, the planet is on for a 3.2-degree global temperature rise and beyond’.

SDGs like #12 ‘Responsible Consumption and Production and #13 ‘Climate Action are therefore more important than ever. The world cannot afford to let progress slide, despite the unprecedented upheaval Coronavirus has unleashed. As the world gets back up from its knees, rebuilding economies and societies, it presents an opportunity to embrace renewable energy and green technologies. It is hugely timely, therefore, that we are investigating EU Critical Raw Materials in Norway that will help keep Europe on the path to its net zero energy transformation and help feed the world in a more environmentally-friendly way.

The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050: an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. This objective is at the heart of the European Green Deal and in line with the EU’s commitment to global climate action under the Paris Agreement. Experts believe vanadium could play a major role in helping the EU achieve this. Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFBs) are able to store vast amounts of renewable energy and their long lifecycle helps contribute to a more circular economy. We believe Norway is sitting on vast reserves of vanadium, and our results so far are providing further evidence that this is true.

At present, vanadium is mostly mined in South Africa, Russia and China. And yet, the importance of locally sourced products and less dependence on complicated global supply chains has suddenly became much more pressing this year.  Europe also relies on countries like Kazakhstan, China, Morocco and Tunisia for phosphorus – another EU critical mineral. Phosphate fertilisers are a more natural alternative to nitrogen-based ones, that release harmful nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. Yet there is high risk associated with the supply of phosphorus. Again, Norway’s phosphorus reserves could provide copious quantities of this valuable mineral to Europe in the future.

With this in mind, we are extracting geological samples from depth in the Bjerkreim area in southern Norway for the first time. The results from our geologists and drilling teams are extremely positive so far. Core samples from the drilling programme will provide further insight into potentially world-class deposits of vanadium and phosphorus (as well as titanium and magnetite). We have aligned our investigations in Norway with seven of the UN’s Sustainable Goals, and we are proud that our programme has gone ahead despite the global pandemic.

 

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