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Shifting public perception through responsible mining

17/11/2023

Without mining we cannot tackle climate change and achieve Net Zero, as we wrote about here.

The green transition needs specialist materials and minerals that recycling alone cannot meet. Yet negative connotations about mining are embedded in the public consciousness where it is often perceived as a force for harm; it is an understandable concern given its long association with fossil fuels and the impact on biodiversity. Underlying this, however, is insufficient recognition of how reliant global populations are on materials that come from mining activity.

Mining’s role in our everyday lives

From the roads on which we drive to the smartphones we cannot be without, almost everything we are surrounded by in 21st century society has likely been made by a material that has come from under the ground.

The Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) required to power the green revolution also lie beneath the Earth’s surface and extracting them can only be done by mining.

So, when this is the new reality, measures that mitigate environmental harms and consider the impact on humans and nature throughout the entire mining process must be the priority. This is known as responsible mining, and it underpins the entire ethos of Norge Mining.

Highest environmental standards

Climate change is a major driver of the environmental crisis. And it is an acknowledgement that we need minerals for the green shift to stop climate change. So, we cannot reject all mining projects, but we must set very high environmental requirements for the ones we proceed with.»

This quote by Anja Bakken Riise, Executive Director of ‘The Future In Our Hands’, is included in Norge Mining’s Responsible Business Report 2023 because it speaks to the lack of public awareness about the fundamental role mining is playing in the transition to clean energy.

The report, A Secure European Source of Critical and Strategic Materials, details how we will run the operations of our mine in South West Norway – in a way that is environmentally and socially sustainable.

Our deposits contain an abundance of three CRMs – phosphate, vanadium and titanium –needed for solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and energy-efficient lighting. And phosphates are also used in fertiliser, thereby aiding the security of food production of the future.

Europe currently sources most CRMs from mines in China, resulting in a carbon-intensive supply chain. Norge Mining’s deposit will help therefore diversify Europe’s CRM supply, reducing high-risk dependencies.

Responsible mining in practice

While still at the exploration phase, Norge Mining recognises the impact its operations could have on the environment and is committed to implementing the highest standards of environmental, social and governance practices when drilling begins.

The mine’s location alone ensures its products will be inherently low carbon in nature given Norway has an almost entirely renewables-based electricity system (98%) of which hydro is the dominant source.

We are also planning for the sustainable disposal of mining byproducts and waste, as well as protection of water and biodiversity around its sites. According to The Business Research Company, proper waste management systems can also help meet growing demand for versatile raw materials in other industries. For example, tailings and waste rock can be reused in dike projects to protect eroding coastlines or to build artificial islands for offshore wind farms. Or they can be used in the production of asphalt and concrete to make roads.

Enhancing communities: the overall objective

Our approach towards water quality assessments is proactive, considers local environments and respects the views of communities who know their area best.

For example, to understand the highly sensitive Helleland River system, known for its mussels, salmon, and sea trout, Norge Mining conducted water quality surveys early on, in conjunction with local landowners and river associations. These collaborations are mirrored in other operational areas where our activity affects communities.

Our overall objective is to ensure that communities where we operate are ultimately enhanced by our presence. Responsible mining will help meet this goal.