Olav Skalmeraas is a Non-Executive Director of Norge Mining and Norge Mineraler AS. He has more than 30 years of international executive experience in the natural resources industries – and we are privileged to have this powerhouse of knowledge join our Boards. He is also senior adviser on emerging fuels at Equinor, the Norwegian energy company. Olav’s motivation now lies in developing Norway’s green industry, as he explains here.
Q. You’ve just taken on the role of Non-Executive Director on the Boards of Norge Mining and Norge Mineraler. What does the role entail?
Olav Skalmeraas: The non-executive Boards have a pivotal role in guiding both Norge Mining and Norge Mineraler to plan and prepare as best they can for mining activities. Both Boards have a good variety of directors in executive and non-executive roles, all of whom bring different expertise and experience. This is important and will steer the right direction for the future of the two companies to be leading in the mining industry in all aspects.
Q. How important is the investigation into Critical Raw Materials for the green energy transition?
Olav Skalmeraas: The investigation of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) is fundamental for growing Norway’s green industry. It’s also important to be able to build short value chains between the raw materials and their end products. Some electric vehicle manufacturers are already doing this and establishing supply deals directly with mining companies. This is one of the main reasons I thought this is an industry I want to be part of and contribute to its success. Norge Mining is in a strong position to deliver on the trilemma of challenges that lie ahead. First, mining activities must be sustainable; second, CRMs must be affordable; and third, the security of materials must be strengthened through shorter and more efficient supply chains. Sustainability and security of supply will be the criteria of success.
Q. In reality, what will short value chains look like in Europe?
Olav Skalmeraas: I see a future where the creation of short value chains will mean excavation and production can take place domestically. And not just in Norway, but the EU and the UK also. Right now, many of the CRMs that are needed for electric vehicles are excavated in places like Russia and China – which are considered unreliable sources and create long value chains.
Q. Mining always comes with controversy. How has the narrative on this moved on?
Olav Skalmeraas: It is a challenge, but if done in a proper, sustainable way, mining activity can add substantial value for society both in the short and long term. Mining in a responsible way means planning and operating in such a way that minimises the impact on the rest of the society and restores the mining sites to, as far as possible, the situation prior to excavating the minerals. Norge Mineraler AS prioritises sustainability and has the experience, skills, and credentials to achieve it.
Q. Your role has transitioned into green industry, as the world has diversified its energy production. Where do you see the future of the oil and gas industries?
Olav Skalmeraas: I think both oil and gas, but especially gas, will have a core position in the future energy mix. I believe that gas, in particular, has a major role to play in the transition to clean energy. It can be decarbonised through capturing and sequestrating CO2. Oil, however, is harder to decarbonise and will need other decarbonisation measures to be applied.
Q. You’re also a senior adviser on emerging fuels at the Norwegian energy company Equinor. What do you think is the most exciting fuel innovation?
Olav Skalmeraas: Emerging fuel is the umbrella term for decarbonised fuels like synthetic aviation fuel, green and blue ammonia, green methanol, and green and blue hydrogen. These low or no carbon emitting fuels can be used to generate electricity, power, and heat, and could potentially have many more uses in the future. I see a mix of fuels being used for different purposes rather than a future with one principle one. Different industries require different types of energy. For instance, power could be fuelled by ammonia but industries requiring high temperatures – like glass – could use hydrogen.
Q. You have 30 years’ experience in the oil and gas and mineral processing industries. What are you most proud of?
Olav Skalmeraas: When I started in the late 1980s and 1990s, the oil and gas industry was in a development phase. I am lucky to have been a part of activities that displaced coal and led to cleaner energy and Norway becoming a core supplier of gas in Europe by offering competitive, secure and carbon efficient natural gas for decades. I feel proud that Norway now seizes the opportunity to build on this natural gas position to transform into being the main supplier of clean energy through blue hydrogen and ammonia – and also becoming the most important CO2 sequestration provider for European industry. Add to this the opportunity Norway has to provide large quantities of CRMs to European industry, you see that my country has a pivotal role in making Europe reach its climate goals. That’s a journey I would like to be part of, and it makes me proud.