Scientists gather to discuss Mineral Resources for a Green Future

Issued: Tue, 27 Aug 2019 14:00:00 BST

This week the University of Glasgow is hosting the largest Mineral Deposit research meeting in Europe in 2019. The meeting will host - 700 delegates from 60 countries, including 200 young scientists - the “Next Generation” of Mineral Deposit Research.

Over the next few decades, the global supply of raw materials must drastically change to accommodate the transformation to a low carbon economy for the whole world. Society needs to understand that there is a raw material cost of “going green” and that both new research and investment is urgently needed for us to evaluate new ways to source these.

“No one can seriously doubt the challenge over the coming decades for the urgent need to cut CO2 emissions to secure the future of our planet - but this has enormous implications for our natural resources, for example, to produce green technologies like electric cars and to keep them charged”, says Professor Adrian Boyce, of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, and Chair of the Organising Committee.

For example, if we are to achieve targets of making all cars electric worldwide by 2035 (as many governments state) - a projected estimate of two billion cars - the annual production for neodymium and dysprosium would have to increase by 70%, copper output would need to more than double and cobalt output would need to increase at least three and a half times for the entire period from now until 2050 to satisfy the demand.

The 15th Biennial Meeting of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (the “SGA”) is themed “Life with Ore Deposits on Earth” directly addresses many of the underpinning scientific issues related to this new future. The Local Organising Committee comes from the Mineral Deposits Studies Group of the Geological Society of London (MDSG).

“It is both exciting and daunting – but it must start with leading-edge research on understanding our Earth’s natural resources, and how we can responsibly deliver the future we all want to see for our children”, says Professor Gawen Jenkin of the University of Leicester.

Many presentations at the meeting directly address metals required for the electrification of vehicles and the transformation of energy technologies for our greener future, e.g. cobalt, copper, gold, Rare Earth Elements. Many other presentations at the meeting relate to metals and processes which are delivering a new understanding of the very nature of our planet, including how life itself may have emerged from the most ancient of oceans.

“The SGA Biennial meeting is also a celebration of the cross-fertilisation of ideas between academia and industry which brings a special flavour to our meeting, which is also a truly global celebration of our science with around 700 delegates from across the globe”, says Professor Karen Kelley, of the US Geological Survey and current President of the SGA.

The Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (the “SGA”) is one of the world’s pre-eminent Society for research into how Mineral Deposits of a large variety of metals and materials (such as gold, silver, zinc, copper, cobalt) form. The Local Organising Committee, headed by its Chair Professor Adrian Boyce of this University, has arisen from the Mineral Deposits Studies Group of the Geological Society (MDSG). The Society is one of the largest and oldest in the world.