Karen Hanghøj – Mining and the Just Transition


Raw materials are important for society in general, and for the transition to a green economy in particular. They are key for achieving the goals set out in COP21 and for achieving several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

When a mineral is both essential in use and subject to supply risk it is considered critical. Emerging energy and mobility technologies create a strong demand for certain raw materials, where demand will dramatically exceed current production in the next decades. Potential scarcity and criticality of these materials might negatively impact the transition, and the downstream supply chain significantly.

While increasing circularity in our consumption is important, an environmentally and socially sustainable extractive industry is essential in meeting the metal demand required for the green transition. Main barriers to increasing CRM production are that criticality and large scale investments are disconnected and the political and public resistance to see projects with negative environmental impact. Both are related to the timescales of extractive projects and the limited understanding of the complexity of the environmental impact.

Adequate future sourcing of metals and minerals requires diverse solutions and a significant shift in both public opinion and investor appetite. This may be achieved in part through consumer awareness and increasing transparency regarding responsible sourcing of metals and minerals.


Karen Hanghøj is the Director of the British Geological Survey. She is a geologist with extensive experience in research and innovation management and the minerals and metals industry. Karen is passionate about understanding the complexity of resource management, about environmental and social sustainability, and about the role of geoscience in finding solutions to societal challenges.

Karen holds a PhD in Geology from University of Copenhagen and has worked with research on geological processes in the lower crust and mantle and their associated mineral deposits. She is a member of a range of international committees and working groups.