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UK climate change strategies in cities and the LAYERS of cobalt supplies

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Oliver Heidrich, Dr Alistair FordORCiD, David Alderson, Professor Richard DawsonORCiD, Professor David ManningORCiD


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Achieving climate change mitigation and adaptation targets set by national (DECC 2010) and local governments requires a consistent raw material supply. This paper describes LAYERS; an integrated methodology and visualisation tool for global strategic management of mineral resources, from geological occurrence through to end-of-life. Bleischwitz et al. (2012) used UN COMTRADE data to calculate international trade for Coltan, others focused on Nickel (Eckelman et al., 2012), regional patterns of extraction (Schandl and Eisenmenger, 2006) or critical elements (Nansai et al., 2014). Using spatial visualisation, we map each activity of cobalt to its geographical location using Geographic Information System (GIS), integrating data from e.g. ProMine, UN COMTRADE or make assumptions. We provide an example of the LAYERS methodology and show that most cities (48%) name electric vehicles (EVs) as one important tool to achieve mitigation targets (Heidrich et al., 2013). To ensure industrial relevance, BS EN ISO 14051 (2011) for material flow analysis is adopted, following the management steps of Plan, Do, Check and Act cycle. EV batteries require cobalt and we visualise the flow of cobalt to understand the material requirements of existing and planned EVs. Unsurprisingly, EV batteries are subject to instabilities of cobalt supplies and in total the UK imported 85 million lithium batteries in 2012, many of which came from suppliers in Japan and China. We illustrate that the majority of Japan’s cobalt originates in Australia, whilst China and Belgium import processed cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We demonstrate a three-dimensional visualisation of the results and outputs and discuss requirements to make LAYERS more robust in the future. References Bleischwitz, R. et al (2012) 'Coltan from Central Africa, international trade and implications for any certification', Resources Policy, 37(1), pp. 19-29. BS EN ISO 14051 (2011) 'Environmental management- Material flow cost accounting- General framework'. Brussels, Belgium DECC (2010) 2050 Pathways Analysis. London. Eckelman, M.J., Reck, B.K. and Graedel, T.E. (2012) 'Exploring the Global Journey of Nickel with Markov Chain Models', Journal of Industrial Ecology, 16(3), pp. 334-342. Heidrich, O. et al (2013) 'Assessment of the climate preparedness of 30 urban areas in the UK', Climatic Change, 120(4), pp. 771-784. Nansai, K. et al (2014) 'Global flows of critical metals necessary for low-carbon technologies: The case of neodymium, cobalt, and platinum', Environmental Science and Technology, 48(3), pp. 1391-1400. Schandl, H. and Eisenmenger, N. (2006) 'Regional patterns in global resource extraction', Journal of Industrial Ecology, 10(4), pp. 133-147.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heidrich O, Ford A, Alderson D, Dawson R, Manning D

Editor(s): Roland Clift and Angela Druckman

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: International Society of Industrial Ecology-Taking Stock

Year of Conference: 2015