As the world grapples with the ongoing climate crisis, switching to greener technology has become a requirement in all facets of our lives. Naturally, industries essential to our daily lives are also moving towards integrating this technology into their operations.
All of these depend in some way on the industry that extracts and transforms the raw materials used to make most green technologies: the mining industry. But the economic and political factors driving the mining sector to become more sustainable remain largely understudied.
In a report published in Resource policyHidemichi Fujii from the Faculty of Economics at Kyushu University, Japan, and Andre Yamashita from the Control Engineering Group at Luleå University of Technology, Sweden, analyzed trends in global patent applications from mining and mineral sector to reveal strategies for promoting mining-related climate change mitigation technology, or CCMT, R&D.
They found that the development of MTCCs in industry was influenced by both the Paris Agreement and raw metal price trends, but the degree of influence varies by country and the sector’s contribution to the economy. country’s economy.
“The goal of developing CCMT is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impact we have on the environment,” says Hidemichi Fujii, who led the study. “A good way to analyze the evolution of an industry’s technology is to look at patents filed over time. Our team looked at patent data from 2001 to 2016 from seven regions to calculate three major indicators of CCMT Development in Industry for Each Region: Priority, Mining and Scale.”
The “Priority” indicator is the number of mining-related patents-CCMT divided by the number of patents in the overall mining industry. This ratio would increase if inventors prioritized CCMT research.
The “mining sector” is defined as the number of patents related to the mining industry divided by the total number of patents in all fields. This number indicates how much inventors focus their efforts on developing technologies for the mining industry itself.
Finally, “scale” is defined as the total number of patents, representing the overall amount of research and development.
“We used these indicators to analyze the mining industry in seven major countries and regions: China, Japan, the United States, Europe, Latin America, Australia and South Africa. The first four have large patent offices, while the last three are large mining regions. “, explains Fujii. “Through our analysis, we found several interesting trends.”
For example, while global mining patents and CCMT mining patents have increased across the board, the pace and pattern of these trends differs depending on whether a country is a resource consumer or producer. Resource-producing regions have shown greater shifts in R&D priorities in response to resource price spikes such as rare earth metals and oil.
Further analysis showed that the development of CCMT mining patents in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Australia was facilitated by a relative increase in R&D related to mining technology. Japan and South Africa have increased their focus on R&D for mining itself and related MTCCs while reducing the overall scale of their R&D. On the other hand, China and the rest of the world have increased the scale of their R&D, which in turn stimulates the invention of greener technologies.
“The year-by-year analysis showed that the Paris Agreement has contributed to an overall increase in green technologies in the mining sector. Rising metal prices have also contributed to the number of patents for the industry,” says Fujii.
The team hopes their new analysis can help countries and industries implement effective policies that promote the development of MTCCs for industry and maximize benefits for all.
“The differences and similarities in R&D strategies can be used as a starting point to formulate country-specific science and technology policies that can tackle the climate crisis,” Fujii concludes. “At the same time, they can make the most of capital and promote regulations that ensure fair wages based on experience and skills.”