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Mining companies look forward to turn scrap metal into green-energy treasure

Some multinational mining corporations are looking for municipal scrapyards for resources that can fuel the energy shift.

In an effort to diversify from investments made over the previous ten years that involved operating massive mines in nations including the U.S., Australia, and the Congo, Rio Tinto and Glencore signed agreements this year to boost key metals recycling.

They and others are placing their bets on the rise in demand for ethically sourced metals from auto and consumer electronics manufacturers. Additionally, they are attempting to seize an opportunity presented by an escalating quantity of scrap metal.

Rio Tinto last month agreed to buy a 50% stake in Matalco, a supplier of recycled aluminium owned by Canada’s Giampaolo Group, for $700 million. By market value, Rio Tinto is the second-largest miner in the world. It also produces a significant amount of aluminium, which is used to build solar panels, wind turbines, and electric cars.

In May, Glencore and Li-Cycle Holdings signed an agreement to research and develop a recycling hub in Europe that could produce enough reclaimed materials each year to make up to 36 gigawatts of lithium-ion batteries. According to the firms, it would be the biggest source of recycled lithium, cobalt, and nickel in Europe.

The actions are being taken at a time when the resources sector is battling to reverse investors’ perceptions that mining is unreliable and endangers the environment by, among other things, accelerating climate change. The industry’s record on emissions, waste and deforestation is challenging efforts by some companies to get new projects permitted and attract skilled workers.

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