Volcanoes could become green sources of valuable tech metals | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 16, 2024

While it’s crucial that we transition to renewable energy to reverse climate change, many of these technologies require rare metals, the mining of which has worrisome environmental impacts. That, however, could soon become a problem of the past, thanks to new Oxford research which investigates a new way to mine valuable metals trapped in hot brines beneath volcanoes — all while creating geothermal power as a by-product.

As explained by New Atlas, many of the metal deposits currently used are the remnants of ancient volcanic activity that have long since solidified. As part of the new study, the scientists at Oxford University sought to go after more recent, untapped sources, while it’s still in liquid form.

Active volcanoes around the world discharge to the atmosphere prodigious quantities of valuable metals” says study author Jon Blundy. “Some of this metal endowment does not reach the surface but becomes trapped as fluids in hot rocks at around 2 km (1.2 miles) depth. Green mining represents a novel way to extract both the metal-bearing fluids and geothermal power, in a way that dramatically reduces the environmental impact of conventional mining.”

According to the study, these brines could potentially contain millions of tonnes of copper, as well as useful amounts of other important metals like gold, zinc, silver, and lithium. Extracting the metals from a fluid solution would not only be cheaper than processing solid ore, but it would also generate less waste and use less energy. Plus, the natural geothermal energy in the area could be tapped to help power the process.

The Oxford researchers have spent the last five years analyzing and minimizing the risk of the process, and are now ready to find a location to trial the first exploratory drill.

Source study: Open Science — The economic potential of metalliferous sub-volcanic brines

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Colombia’s battle against deforestation achieves remarkable results

BY THE OPTIMIST DAILY EDITORIAL TEAM Colombia's deforestation rate dropped to its lowest level in 23 years, marking a significant milestone in the country's ...

Read More

US track star Allyson Felix opens the first-ever nursery for Olympic parents

BY THE OPTIMIST DAILY EDITORIAL TEAM The upcoming 2024 Olympic Games in Paris are expected to make history, not just by achieving gender parity, ...

Read More

Sweden to introduce off-grid communities that fully sustain themselves

To ensure that communities around the world become future-proof and resilient in the face of climate change, it’s essential to create development models that ...

Read More

‘Million-mile’ EV batteries are near. The impact could be massive.

Electric vehicles (EVs) have a clear environmental advantage over their gas-guzzling counterparts, but when it comes to longevity, the two are in dead heat. ...

Read More