Minerals for the green economy : NGU thematic issue 1

Heldal, Tom
Schiellerup, Henrik
Aasly, Kari Aslaksen
Mineral resources have, throughout the history of mankind, been decisive for wellbeing and development. Each new
epoch has been characterised by the availability of new mineral resources for use in mankind's toolkit, which, in turn,
led to new technological developments. The Stone Age was replaced by the Bronze Age in the same way as green
energy will replace the use of fossil fuels. Almost all useful elements in the Periodic
Table are now, in modern society, available to us, a development which allows
use of ever more advanced technologies.
Resources for which there was little use 20 years ago are now absolute necessities for high-technology applications
which we all use. The transition to a green economy will necessitate a major focus on green technology.
The main focus will be on renewable energy (bio-energy, hydrogen, water, wind and sun), better storage and less loss of
energy (batteries and energy transport), reduction in the use of fossil energy (electrification of vehicles, lighter materials)
and advanced, smart technology. Most of these sectors are mineral-intensive. In the long term it should be possible
to facilitate recirculation of a large part of the resources we use. Population growth and, not least, improvements in
standards of living, will, however, lead to further increases in demand which
cannot, in the short term, be met by recirculated materials. We must thus,
for the foreseeable future, meet our needs by extracting most of the necessary resources from rocks and surficial
sediments, until the available store of recyclable material in society is large
enough to be significant and the recycling technology good enough to process it. We
will, in the following chapters, examine different aspects of the minerals needed
in a green economy, Norway's potential and challenges, and also sketch ways in
which private-public partnerships can contribute to achieving key goals.