BRISBANE (Reuters) – Regulators urgently need to fast track approvals for new mines and the renewable energy projects to power them to ensure the supply of minerals essential to averting climate change, gold miner Newcrest’s interim head said on Thursday.
“We are urgently off course and we need to course correct immediately,” Sherry Duhe, interim CEO of Australia’s top gold miner and a former oil industry executive, told a mining conference in Brisbane.
The mining industry needs to bring online the equivalent of 17 more Escondidas, the world’s biggest copper mine, by 2050, to meet demand projections, she said as an example of the scale of the problem.
Other metals, such as nickel, cobalt and lithium, used in batteries and wind turbines, are also urgently needed for the energy transition.
Miners need to step up development by an order of magnitude and governments need to slash regulatory timelines and beef up regulatory staffing, as regulation is becoming more complex, including duplicated rules, Duhe said.
“The next five to 10 years are critical,” she said.
“The alternative is terrifying.”
Newcrest is relying on a wind farm to supply 40% of its electricity needs for its Cadia gold mine in New South Wales state, but that power project development is struggling with regulatory time frames.
Shareholders in Newcrest, which has gold and copper projects in Australia, Canada and Papua New Guinea, are due to vote later this year on a A$26.2 billion ($17.3 billion) takeover offer from Newmont Corp.
($1 = 1.5158 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Sonali Paul)
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