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Insights What is Climate-smart mining? All you need to know about the race for future

Mark Adams is the global mining market lead for AtkinsRéalis . He's responsible for supporting clients from "pit-to-port" through our mining, environment, infrastructure, transportation, and energy capabilities.

Photo of Mark smiling towards the camera

When Mark entered the mining industry, he didn't envision a career combatting climate change. However, nearly 20 years later, he says, "climate change has emerged as a defining issue for the sector and our generation."

How have you ended up championing Engineering Net Zero?

Being in the mining industry is such a great opportunity to enact change. A recent World Bank Group report, "Minerals for Climate Action," found that the production of minerals, such as graphite, lithium and cobalt, could increase by nearly 500% by 2050 to meet the growing demand for clean energy technologies, which makes mining a key enabler for achieving net zero goals.

Some stats show how the sector (including steelmaking) yields nearly 10% of the world's carbon emissions. We need to improve this by ensuring we manage the industry in a way that minimizes the environmental and climate footprint.

What role do you play in Engineering Net Zero?

At AtkinsRéalis , I'm responsible for bringing together all that AtkinsRéalis has to offer for our mining clients. Our teams pursue projects and clients we want to work with, and their commitment and impact on our net zero goals play a part in that.

What kind of work do you and your teams do?

Our commitment to leading net zero initiatives globally in the industry covers a huge variety of projects. Our teams support new mine development to meet increasing demands for electrification metals. We also build renewable power generation at mines that previously used fossil fuels and help clients create decarbonization roadmaps.

The need for metals that support the net-zero transition is a clear trend. We're executing several projects with clients in the graphite and lithium space. Even 10 years ago, the industry was not progressing projects in those commodities significantly. Today, they're becoming more common due to the demand for electric vehicles and battery storage.

How is your team inspiring you?

There's no question that AtkinsRéalis has been through some tough times in the past decade, but the atmosphere in our global mining team over the last several years has been incredibly positive as we pivot to growth. We've had excellent success thanks to our team's efforts, and there's incredible excitement about the future of our business and how we can best support our clients in all their needs, including achieving their net zero goals.

"We have an incredible team of capable, committed, and passionate professionals. I have no doubt we can achieve anything we set our minds to."

How will you bring your passion for Engineering Net Zero to life?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about the mining industry. For example, we're seen more as a cause of climate change as opposed to a big part of the solution. Debunking that myth is something I try to do every day with everyone I talk to. Only when the industry gets the support it needs can we collectively and responsibly produce the critical metals required to meet our global net-zero targets.

What is your biggest concern about the future?

That, as humanity, we are moving too slowly to address climate change. For example, a recent report by S&P Global indicated copper demand will double from now until 2035 to stay on track towards limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. On average, it takes 10+ years from resource discovery to metal production, so if humanity is not acting now to develop or expand new mines, we're already behind.

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