Whether it’s lithium for car batteries or PGMs for catalysts, metals play a critical role in making the green energy transition happen. As a result, knowing where they have been sourced from is crucial. It can mean the difference between long-term support of a responsibly run mine or one that is environmentally and socially destructive. While keeping these classifications within the mining sector is useful, communicating them with the public can generate more positive change.
Terra-trace is an initiative that was created to do exactly that. We aim to share information about the provenance of metals in everyday products, along with how responsibly it was extracted, so that people can make more informed purchases. This will be done through package labelling and advertisement that is directly aimed at consumers, resulting in people being more educated about their material footprint and mining.
I am a final year student studying Earth and Planetary science at Imperial College London, and I started becoming interested in sustainability within mining when Dr Sarah Gordon gave a guest lecture about the importance of ESG. From there, I did some work with Responsible Raw Materials, and helped produce their monthly newsletters. During this time, I started becoming very interested in how sustainability could be improved and decided to do my masters dissertation on this topic. The idea for terra-trace came several years ago, as I realised there was no way for the public to reliably know where their metals were coming from. By sharing this information, I believe it will help improve responsibility within mining, and will start to differentiate those companies that are operating well versus those that are not. After meeting up with a school friend who persuaded me to pursue this further, we co-founded terra-trace.