CEO, Kite Creator
Principal Advisor, Kite Creator
There’s no sustainable future without new resources. And if it can’t be grown, it has to be mined. So what does ‘sustainable mining’ even mean? Kite Creator is catalyzing answers.
As we collectively work to reshape our global society into something sustainable, it is easy to focus only on the most straightforwardly green technologies, behaviours, and enterprises. Renewable energy, water conservation, recycling. Realistically, however, we simply cannot conserve and recycle our way to a sustainable future. The path to net zero runs straight through a busy intersection of absolutely critical industries long avoided by environmentally-minded investors as ‘dirty.’
“The reality is that, even if we recycled every bit of material that’s been mined in the last 2,000 years, we would still fall dramatically short of the metals we need to enable the net zero transition,” says Kari LaMotte, CEO of natural resource venture catalyst firm Kite Creator. “Trying to recycle or deconsume our way there is not actually a sustainable decision. Mining is a necessary partner. And what makes this interesting is that mining is indeed a laggard industry in terms of sustainability, with a lot of low-hanging fruit ripe for innovation.”
Bringing Generational Responsibility to Resource Extraction
LaMotte places emphasis on the Haudenosaunee Seventh Generation Principle, which asks that decisions we make today be not for our own benefit alone, but also for the good of those living seven generations in the future. Mining has historically been a very now-centric endeavour, but LaMotte believes it is possible chart a path forward such that, seven generations hence, our descendants will look back with gratitude on our stewardship.
“There are conversations happening now about decolonizing the mining model,” says Rob Stephens, Principal Advisor at Kite Creator. “About doing something other than bringing capital in, taking resources out, and leaving people with a hole in the ground. People are asking how we can meet our needs now without compromising the needs of future generations.”
It starts with the sheer scale of the potential for sustainability innovation within the industry. “Breaking rocks, for example, uses about 1.3% of the world’s electricity,” says Stephens. “And the mills are only about 5% to 10% efficient.”
Converting this gap into savings depends on innovative solutions like those developed by Minesense in Vancouver, who are putting X-ray fluorescence sensors right in the buckets of power shovels, allowing real-time analysis of the elemental composition of mined materials. This not only improves cost efficiency by millions of dollars per day, it also critically reduces the emissions from waste material being sent to the mills. It is a massive win, but it has not been an easy innovation to realize.
No Impact without Investment
“Intelligent systems like these take a long time and a lot of capital to develop,” says Stephens. “They require multiple iterations, and the venture studio model aims to streamline that. This is very directed development.” Investment in transformative ideas like Minesense is Kite Creator’s raison d’être. And it is arguably the purest form of ‘impact investing’ there is. “Impact investors who care deeply about making a positive change in the world—particularly on climate—often have a big X drawn over mining as an industry,” says LaMotte. “And, yes, we do need to reduce our consumption, dramatically, but it’s also time that we lean in to the opportunity these challenging industries represent. There is tremendous room for investment to make real change here.”
Learn how Kite is driving a sustainable future at kitecreator.com.