The three-year project, worth £1.5M, is co-funded by the UK Natural Environmental Research Council and the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology. It is a major international collaboration between five UK universities (Liverpool John Moores Univiersity, University of Glasgow, University of Hull, University of Exeter, and Brunel University London) and four Philippine universities.
Global targets for a net zero carbon economy hang on the development of clean energy technologies (wind, solar, electric) that are far more complex than traditional hydrocarbon-based technologies. For example, a typical electric car requires six times more mineral resources than a conventional car, and an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired power plant. This ‘clean energy transition’ is set to triple global demand for so-called ‘technology critical minerals’ by 2040. However, mining these minerals has an enormous carbon footprint and historical mining has given rise to a variety of environmental and social issues worldwide. The Philippines, for example, has globally significant deposits of technology critical minerals. In April 2021, a nine-year national moratorium on new mining activity was lifted and this has heightened public concern over the ecological and human health impacts of future mining activities. So, how can we mine in a sustainable fashion that minimises environmental impacts whilst supplying the mineral resources critical to meeting global net-zero targets and mitigating climate change?
The aim of project PAMANA (Filipino, meaning ‘legacy’ or ‘heritage’) is to provide a holistic understanding of the legacy, present and future environmental and ecological impacts of mining on Philippine river systems.
Dr Patrick Byrne, a Hydrologist in the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, will lead the LJMU contribution. He said: “I’m really excited about this project as LJMU will play a very significant role in shaping the future of mining and environmental monitoring in one of the most mineral-rich nations in the world. We will conduct the first ever national-scale study of river water quality and ecosystem health in the Philippines. We will adopt a variety of highly novel solutions to working in some of the largest rivers in the world, including the use of automated ‘drone’ boats to sample and analyse river water, Google Earth Engine to map mine wastes in river systems, and numerical modelling to evaluate the impacts of climate change on rivers and ecosystems.”
The ultimate goal of project PAMANA is to enable a new era of sustainable mining in the Philippines by developing practices and policies that empower government agencies, mining companies, scientists, and communities to minimise the environmental and ecological impacts of mining.
Read more from NERC: https://www.ukri.org/news/nerc-supports-a-green-future-for-philippines-mining/