Mineral Exploration & Climate Change: Mitigate, Adapt and Innovate
This week is historic. From September 20th to September 27th, millions of people worldwide are expected to bring protests to federal and local governments to demand immediate action is taken to end the age of fossil fuels and to take steps to avoid an irrevocable climate catastrophe.
"If global warming was caused by natural factors alone (natural cycles, activity of the sun, volcanoes etc), adaptation to it would still be a necessary human response, but nothing from the broad range of activities that we call 'mitigation' would be necessary or make even sense. But if [anthropogenic global warming] is a fact, and if avoiding dangerous climate change is a meaningful or even necessary goal, then the de-carbonization of the global economy has to be the answer. This does clearly challenge a range of existing practices, routines, business models, and related policies. It does also devaluate—in a very economic sense—formerly very precious assets, such as coal, oil and gas fields. They turn from private goods to public bads."
- Fritz Reusswig, 2013, History and future of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming, Environmental Research Letters, IOP Science
How will mineral exploration work with the increasing public pressure to be accountable for creating and maintaining a clean environment?
Newmont Mining Corp.'s Borden Lake Mine is the first all-battery-electric mine and is slated for production to start at the end of the month. While this is a large-scale operational change and quarter results are pending for this "very low-grade resource", it is a major change from diesel-powered mining and is aimed at mitigating the rising cost of fossil fuels while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing carbon footprints on a smaller scale is also starting to take hold as evidenced by the introduction of a Carbon Emission Reports service provided by a forward-thinking consulting company.
There are a number of occurrences in the recent past that have interrupted mineral exploration activities or have the potential to interrupt programs: forest fires, increased wildlife interfacing, entrance bans (woodland caribou moratorium) and, eventually, water scarcity in some areas. Knowing of the potential events that could affect programs and planning accordingly can result in safe, cost effective and successful exploration.
When faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, there often arises the select few who are the game-changers. These people are the innovators, the instigators and the entrepreneurs. They can fix a water pump with duct tape and a piece of string, they develop compact RC drills to work on rough ground with minimal water, they spur exploration for the key elements used in their products like batteries, and they research ways to capture greenhouse gases. Open minds and support are essential to helping innovators meet their potential.
Although this week may be more geared towards gloom and doom, their main motivator is hope. It is a hope that we will work collectively towards a future with water that we can drink, food that we can eat and air that is safe to breathe.
About the Author:
Diana has over 20 years of experience working in the mineral exploration industry searching for diamonds and metals in a range of roles: from heavy minerals lab technician to till sampler, rig geologist, project manager and business owner. She has a Bachelor of Science in General Biology and, following a Master of Science degree in Earth Sciences for diamond indicator mineral geochemistry, Diana has conducted field work in Canada (BC, NWT, YT and ON) as well as in Greenland. She has also been involved, remotely through a BC-based office, on mineral exploration projects located in South America, Africa, Eurasia, and the Middle East. Diana finished a Ph.D. at UNBC in 2017 researching geochemical multivariate statistical analysis techniques for use in interpreting biogeochemical data for mineral exploration. Currently, Diana is the owner of Takom Exploration Ltd., a small geological and environmental consulting firm focused on metal exploration in BC and the Yukon.