Monitoring African Copper and Cobalt Mining Emissions from Space
NCAR researchers explore a new way to track the impact of increased mining activities on the air quality in the Copperbelt
Emissions associated with mining operations in Africa’s Copperbelt can be quantified from space, according to new research led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
Mining for copper and cobalt in Africa has rapidly increased, the latter in response to growing global demand for electric vehicles, laptops, smartphones, and other devices that rely on lithium-ion batteries, the vast majority of which contain cobalt.
The new study is published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, and shows for the first time that satellite monitoring can provide valuable information on the impact of the mining boom on air quality in nearby towns and villages. The research also opens the door to the possibility of remotely monitoring increases and decreases in mining activities in a region of the world where surface monitoring is scarce and reporting by mine operators can be inconsistent or altogether absent.