Mining for a Circular Economy in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: The Case of South Africa

Mining is not typically associated with visions of a circular economy, where waste is transformed into inputs for ecologically safe outputs. But if the world is to transition to a low-carbon future – a fundamental imperative if we are to avoid warming the planet more than 1.5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures – more minerals and metals will be required, not less. The future is renewable energy, robots and electric vehicles. This shift will require vast volumes of copper, lithium, cobalt, platinum, chrome and manganese. This policy briefing details the opportunities associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in South Africa, and the role that mining can play as the world transitions to a low-carbon circular economy.