Resourcing Green Technologies through Smart Mineral Enterprise Development: A Case Analysis of Cobalt
Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement requires the world to adopt ‘green technologies’ such as renewable energies and electric transportation at an unprecedented scale. While many countries have implemented policies to spur the adoption of such technologies, a lack of focus has been placed on the sourcing of minerals that are required as inputs. As a result, there is likely to be a significant deficit that may constrain the adoption of green technologies. In this report, we argue that a neglected area in addressing the mineral scarcity challenge is the private sector’s current trajectory for geological mineral exploration and the lack of innovative initiatives on material efficiency and recycling. We propose a Smart Mineral Enterprise Development (SMED), which entails a partnership between public and private entities to consider pathways whereby public sector data sharing on geology can be coupled with research innovations in the private sector both upstream and downstream of mineral supply. Just as smart energy grids harness efficiencies in electricity supply and demand through a dynamic process of communication, SMED processes can do the same for key technological bottlenecks in mineral supply. We focus on cobalt to highlight the bottlenecks; identify alternative supply sources based on current exploration and recycling technologies; propose ways in which the international legal framework could be adapted to promote investments in critical minerals; and consider ways by which the public sector can assist the private sector in developing a SMED process that would bring forth more efficient and effective entrepreneurial activity to meet our green technology needs.
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