Mining has embraced new green technology over the past 12 years, driving capital spending up 600 percent to $100 billion in 2012, a Lux Research report says.
Spending will fall 24 percent to $76 billion this year on a cyclical downturn, but the long-term trend will remain up due to technical challenges of extraction and heightened environmental scrutiny, according to Digging for Opportunities in the Aftermath of Mining’s Explosive Growth.
Increasing scarcity of key minerals, wide-scape development in East Asia and other long-term trends indicate mining spending will continue to grow, says Brent Giles, a Lux Research Senior Analyst and the lead author of the report.
The study says to meet stringent emission standards, the coal industry must partner with technology developers to lower the cost of carbon capture and sequestration technology. Global Thermostat, for example, is developing systems to capture carbon dioxide for reuse.
The report also found water needs drive technology. Opportunities for water technologies exist throughout mining processes, from enabling water reuse and conservation to augmenting recovery from brines or other aqueous solutions. For example, phosphogypsum waste leaves brines rich in both phosphate and low-grade naturally occurring radioactivity (NORM); both problems could be resolved with more efficient and complete treatment of the brine before it is dried, Lux Research says.
In the report, Lux Research analysts studied 18 mining sectors, their major players, processes, needs and value.
The Lux Research report echoes a study published last month by cleantech research and advisory firm Kachan & Co. that says mining companies are beginning to adopt greener technologies, spawning a cottage industry aimed at helping the mining industry clean up after hundreds of years of inefficiencies and waste.
The increased adoption of such green technologies is driven primarily by cost savings, but market volatility, falling commodity prices, decreasing productivity, policy changes and social justice scrutiny are also key drivers, Kachan & Co. says.