A Path to Sustainable Mineral Mining for Energy Infrastructure

Greenhouse gas emissions from global mining and resource extraction cause up to £2.5tn ($3tn) in damages annually. The mining industry is transitioning towards sustainability and cost reduction, driven by the demand for electric vehicles and carbon emission reduction. Canadian startups are pioneering innovative solutions while USA corporations are looking to meet their net-zero goals.
May 17, 2024

Greenhouse gas emissions from global mining and resource extraction result in up to £2.5tn ($3tn) in damages worldwide every year, according to a new study.

Total carbon emissions from the mining industry increased from 40,000 Mg in 1986 to 1,050,000 Mg in 2015, with an average annual growth rate of 11.64%.

Fortunately, the mining industry is undergoing a significant transformation as it moves towards sustainability and cost reduction. With the increasing demand for electric vehicles and the need to reduce carbon emissions, mining companies are looking for innovative solutions to meet these challenges. Startups are playing a crucial role in this transition, providing new technologies and methods to make mining more sustainable and cost-effective.

Canada in particular is determined to become a key player in the electric vehicle (EV) supply chain, particularly in the sourcing and processing of critical minerals required for EV batteries. These innovative Canadian startups are disrupting traditional mineral extraction and battery manufacturing processes in the United States.  

One such startup is Rock Tech Lithium, based in Vancouver, which has entered into an agreement with Mercedes-Benz AG to supply carbon-neutral lithium hydroxide for electric vehicle batteries. This partnership will provide Mercedes-Benz with an average of 10,000 tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide per year, enough for around 150,000 electric vehicles. The automaker plans to go all-electric by the end of the decade and will source lithium from Rock Tech's converter in Germany.

Another startup, Ideon, based in British Columbia, is working with large mining companies like Glencore and Vale to reduce drilling costs by 10x. Ideon is using its Series A funding to expand its team and refine its proprietary detectors. The company has already demonstrated a 10x reduction in drilling, making it economically viable for mining companies.

Interlune, a stealth startup headed by ex-Blue Origin executives, is focused on mining the moon for a rare isotope of helium that could be used to scale quantum computing and eventually even fusion power. The company recently closed $15.5 million in new capital to fund this expensive plan, which includes paying for launch, securing a resource return partner, and building out all of the necessary hardware to start mining at scale. All these startups are disrupting the material mining process, which is a process unfortunately needed to create the sustainable energy infrastructure and batteries of today. 


  1. “Mercedes-Benz partners with Canadian mining company for CO2-neutral lithium hydroxide for EVs.” techcrunch, 20 October 2022, https://techcrunch.com/2022/10/20/mercedes-benz-partners-with-canadian-mining-company-for-co2-neutral-lithium-hydroxide-for-evs/.
  2. “Ideon Technologies digs up $16M Series A to use particle physics to find critical minerals.” techcrunch, 19 September 2022, https://techcrunch.com/2022/09/19/ideon-technologies-digs-up-16m-series-a-to-use-particle-physics-to-find-critical-minerals/.
  3. “Ex-Blue Origin leaders’ secretive lunar startup Interlune has moonshot mining plans.” techcrunch, 7 February 2024, https://techcrunch.com/2024/02/07/ex-blue-origin-leaders-secretive-lunar-startup-interlune-has-moonshot-mining-plans/.
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