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Energy in Transition Podcast: Critical Minerals and Geopolitics with Ashley Zumwalt-Forbes, Black Mountain Metals

Ashley Zumwalt-Forbes

In the latest episode of the Energy in Transition podcast — the second of a three-part series on critical and strategic minerals — Ashley Zumwalt-Forbes, Co-Founder, President & Director, Black Mountain Metals, joined Council CEO Leslie Beyer for a deeply informative and thought-provoking discussion of the vital role these materials have in the future of energy and the challenges in boosting production to meet demand.

“At Black Mountain, we’re very much raw material operators,” Zumwalt-Forbes said. “What’s needed for electric vehicles to be manufactured is nickel, copper, cobalt and lithium.”

Echoing reports from international agencies and analysts, Zumwalt-Forbes said production of these critical minerals must increase radically to meet the world’s climate goals. She said that many of these resources are located in geopolitically sensitive areas, that refining is almost exclusively conducted in China and that exploration for new sources is risky.

We need to mine more material. In order to found a new mine, it’s a 20-year process. We have decades of mineral resources ahead of us but there does need to be innovation.”

Ashley Zumwalt-Forbes, Black Mountain Metals

Zumwalt-Forbes said it’s important to take a realistic long-term view of the transformation underway in the energy sector because artificial deadlines won’t accelerate the work that needs to be done.

“We’re decapitalizing hydrocarbons faster than we’re removing the demand,” she said. “Inherently, this will be a decades-long transition. And it should be. There are trillions of dollars of infrastructure at stake.”

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  • Previous Episodes

    • Rod Larson, President & CEO, Oceaneering
    • Robert Drummond, President & CEO, NexTier Completion Services
    • Bob Moran, Senior Managing Director, FTI Consulting
    • Kyle Ramachandran, President & CFO, Solaris Oilfield Infrastructure
    • Kenneth B. Medlock III, Ph.D, James A. Baker, III, and Susan G. Baker Fellow in Energy and Resource Economics at Rice University’s Baker Institute and the senior director of the Center for Energy Studies
    • Gabriel Rio, President & CEO, Milestone Environmental Services
    • Scott Gale, Executive Director, Halliburton Labs
    • Mahesh Konduru, Chief Executive Officer, ProSep
    • Tim Tarpley, SVP Government Affairs & Counsel, Energy Workforce & Technology Council
    • Melissa Cougle, CFO, Frank’s International
    • Allyson Book, Vice President Energy Transition, Baker Hughes
    • Assaad Mohana, Sr. Director Low Carbon Solutions, NOV, Inc.
    • Lees Rodionov, Global Director Sustainability, Schlumberger
    • Hans Smit, President & CEO, Ocean Minerals


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