Heavy Metal: Earth’s Minerals and the Future of Sustainable Societies - cover image


Philippe D. Tortell. Copyright of individual chapters are maintained by the chapter author(s).

Published On





  • English

Print Length

278 pages (xxiv+254)


Paperback203 x 20 x 203 mm(8" x 0.79" x 8")
Hardback203 x 23 x 203 mm(8" x 0.91" x 8")


Paperback603g (21.27oz)
Hardback799g (28.18oz)



OCLC Number





  • RNK
  • RBK
  • RBG


  • RB
  • RBG
  • RBGD


  • SCI031000
  • TEC036000
  • NAT015000
  • NAT011000


  • HD9506.A2


  • minerals
  • mining
  • environmental sustainability
  • geology
  • engineering
  • Indigenous resistance

Heavy Metal

Earth’s Minerals and the Future of Sustainable Societies

Heavy Metal: Earth’s Minerals and the Future of Sustainable Societies brings together world-leading experts from across the globe to reimagine the future of mineral exploration and mining in a post-fossil fuel world.

Minerals and metals – for batteries, circuit boards, wiring and other components – are essential to a digital, carbon-neutral economy. But how can we grapple with the environmental, social and geopolitical challenges caused by the extraction and use of these critical resources?

Concise, accessible, and engaging, the essays in this timely collection intertwine a broad spectrum of disciplines to help us understand and reimagine our relationship with minerals. Exploring a wide range of themes, from the colonial history of mining and Indigenous resistance, to new frontiers in exploration geology, waste management and recycling, this book draws on experts from fields as diverse as geology, mining engineering, law, economics and public policy.

The book also explores mineral resources through an artistic lens, with a collection of stunning images from the Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, and excerpts of a new musical work, the Heavy Metal Suite.

This thought-provoking and ultimately hopeful book guides us towards a more responsible, ethical and sustainable use of metals and minerals. It is essential reading for anyone interested in how we supply the resources needed for a carbon-neutral economic future.



(pp. 1–8)
  • Philippe D. Tortell
  • Allen Edzerza
  • Dave Porter
  • Shaun Barker

Ocean Minerals

(pp. 39–46)
  • John Wiltshire

Mines in the Sky

(pp. 47–56)
  • Sara Russell
  • Riz Mokal
  • Mark Nuttall
  • Anita Dey Nuttall
  • Edward Burtynsky

The Face of Mining

(pp. 97–106)
  • Carol Liao
  • Marcello Veiga
  • J. Alejandro Delgado-Jimenez
  • Jocelyn Fraser
  • W. Scott Dunbar

A Matter of Trust

(pp. 137–144)
  • Allison Macfarlane

The Heavy Metal Suite

(pp. 145–148)
  • Philippe D. Tortell
  • Dorival Puccini, Jr.


(pp. 148–150)
  • T. Patrick Carrabré

Kypros 29

(pp. 151–153)
  • Valeria Valle


(pp. 153–155)
  • Yao Chen


(pp. 155–156)
  • Vuma Ian Levin
  • Augusta Read Thomas
  • Roberto Morales-Manzanares

A Lithium Fascination

(pp. 164–166)
  • Christopher Sainsbury


(pp. 166–169)
  • Chris Chafe


(pp. 181–190)
  • Lee A. Groat

Metal and Water

(pp. 191–200)
  • Nadja Kunz

Mine Waste

(pp. 201–210)
  • Roger Beckie

Microbial Mining

(pp. 211–218)
  • Gordon Southam
  • Maria Holuszko
  • Naomi Klein


Philippe D. Tortell

Professor of Oceanography at University of British Columbia
Head of the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at University of British Columbia
Co-Lead Investigator of Future Minerals Initiative at University of British Columbia

Philippe Tortell is a Professor of Oceanography at UBC, Head of the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, and Co-Lead Investigator of UBC’s Future Minerals Initiative. He is a sea-going oceanographer, with more than two decades of experience documenting the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems around the world. He has been a member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada, a Von Humboldt Research Fellow and past Director of the UBC Institute for Advanced Studies. He has published more than one hundred research articles, and edited three previous books, including Reflections of Canada, Memory, and Earth 2020: An Insider’s Guide to a Rapidly Changing Planet.