Commodity prices influence development of climate change mitigation technology in mining

“The goal of CCMT’s development is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impact we have on the environment,” said Hidemichi Fujii, the report’s lead author, in a press release. “A good way to analyze the evolution of an industry’s technology is to look at the patents filed over time. Our team looked at patent data from 2001 to 2016 across seven regions to calculate three major indicators of CCMT development in the industry for each region: priority, mining, and scale. »

Fujii explained that the “priority” indicator is the number of patents related to mining-CCMT divided by the number of patents in the entire mining industry. This ratio would increase if inventors prioritized CCMT research.

Commodity prices influence development of climate change mitigation technology in mining
Although the number of mining patents (orange) and CCMT patents (blue) increased in both resource-consuming and resource-producing regions, the increase was not uniform. (Image courtesy of Kyushu University/Fujii Lab/Science Graphics).

“Mining” was defined as the number of patents related to the mining industry divided by the total number of patents in all fields. This number indicates how much inventors focus their efforts on developing technologies for the mining industry itself.

Finally, “scale” was defined as the total number of patents, representing the overall amount of research and development.

“We used these indicators to analyze the mining industry in seven major countries and regions: China, Japan, the United States, Europe, Latin America, Australia and South Africa. The first four have large patent offices, while the last three are large mining regions,” Fuji said. “Through our analysis, we found several interesting trends.”

For example, while global mining patents and CCMT mining patents have increased across the board, the pace and pattern of these trends differ depending on whether a country consumes or produces resources. The latter have shown greater shifts in R&D priorities in response to commodity price spikes such as rare earth metals and oil.

Further analysis showed that the development of CCMT mining patents in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Australia was facilitated by a relative increase in R&D related to mining technology. Japan and South Africa have increased their focus on R&D for mining itself and related MTCCs while reducing the overall scale of their R&D. On the other hand, China and the rest of the world have increased the scale of their R&D, which in turn stimulates the invention of greener technologies.

“Analysis year by year has shown that the Paris Agreement has contributed to an overall increase in green technologies in the mining sector. Increases in metal prices have also contributed to the number of patents for the industry,” Fujii said.

Following these findings, the team hopes that both countries and the mining industry will implement effective policies that promote the development of MTCCs for the industry.

“The differences and similarities in R&D strategies can be used as a starting point to formulate country-specific science and technology policies that can tackle the climate crisis,” Fujii noted. “At the same time, they can use capital most efficiently and promote regulations that ensure fair wages based on experience and skills.”

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