This Is CDR is an ongoing series of online events to explore the range of carbon dioxide removal solutions that are currently in development. This week, we welcome Carbin Minerals CEO Paul Needham and Chief Science Officer Dr. Greg Dipple to tell us how the company accelerates natural mineralization processes to unlock the enormous carbon removal potential of mine tailings.
Carbin Minerals springs from a couple of decades of research into using mine waste to capture CO2 at the University of British Columbia. A lot of mined commodity minerals are found in ultramafic rocks, which are inherently highly reactive with carbon dioxide. Mine tailings–the waste minerals left behind after the commodity is extracted–will already capture and mineralize CO2 from the atmosphere, albeit very slowly. But by optimizing these reactions, Carbin Minerals can substantially increase the rate of capture.
This is good news, because mining waste is enormously abundant. It would be good to do something useful with it. Moreover, as we move as quickly as possible from fossil fuels to renewable energy, demand for batteries is expected to skyrocket, and with it, demand for the materials required to make batteries. Nickel mining, for one, is expected to go up by six to nineteen times by 2040. That mining itself will release a lot of carbon, but Carbin Minerals’ intervention could mitigate that output, or even make nickel mining net negative.
For more about Carbin Minerals, including the low-level details of the chemistry involved, please check out the video above! You can also catch up with all of This Is CDR on our resources page.