Clean tech minerals critical to NZ’s low-carbon economy
The minerals sector welcomes the Government’s acknowledgement that clean tech minerals are essential to support New Zealand’s transition to a low carbon economy, says Chris Baker, CEO of Straterra, the minerals sector industry organisation.
Hon Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources, in her opening address at the inaugural NZ Minerals Forum, said demand is strong around the world “for minerals which are used in clean-tech and which can aid our transition to a low carbon economy. That demand represents a real economic opportunity for New Zealand.”
Clean tech minerals (also known as green or strategic minerals) refer to minerals used in low emmissions technology such as wind turbines, solar batteries and electric vehicle lithium batteries.
“Minerals, produced locally or imported, have an essential role in supporting New Zealand’s transition to a low carbon economy,” said Mr Baker.
“Minerals are part of modern life; they’re used in everything from cellphones and home appliances, through to creating the steel for wind turbines and batteries. While some materials can be recycled, not all minerals can. And demand globally is strong.”
For example, to build one 3MW wind turbine requires 335 tonnes of steel, 4.7 tonnes of copper, 1200 tonnes of concrete, 3 tonnes of aluminium, 2 tonnes of rare earth elements, and zinc.
“We support the Government’s interest in these minerals, but note that we have to provide the conditions to encourage investment if we are to realise the opportunities. Mineral exploration and development is challenging. Finding an economic mineral deposit is uncommon and a lot of investment is required before a new mine is identified.
“As the Minister acknowledged, New Zealand’s labour and environmental standards are world-class. That means New Zealand is a good place to mine, if we are fortunate enough to find economic occurences of these minerals.
“Mining is a crucial part of the success of our regions, providing jobs and economic benefits.”