Finding the E-tech Metals to Drive the Green Energy Revolution


  • Prof Adrian Finch
  • Dr Anouk Borst
  • Dr Will Hutchison
  • Dr Nicky Horsburgh
  • Krzysztof Sokół

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Moving away from fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources will require step changes in the availability of certain rare e-tech metals such as Nb, Ta and Rare Earths. Our team is involved in defining the pointers that are needed to find the metal resources of the 21st Century and developing ways to work out the three-dimensional shapes of ore bodies. We are working on making sure that the green energy revolution does not stall because of a lack of critical metals needed for turbines, electric vehicles and other green technologies.

To drive the green renewable energy sector, the world must expand its mining of critical e-tech metals. However exploration in populated areas generates local opposition, even if that same populace want a future underpinned by green technologies. One solution is exploration and mining in areas such as Arctic Greenland although such mining is more costly and presents substantial engineering challenges. Which imperative will be more important in the latter 21st Century? Will the political will to move away from fossil fuels overcome nimbyism, or will we exploit more from the Arctic?

Photography: Joshua Hughes