IEA urges action to prevent critical mineral shortage

WORLD governments must act now to prevent a shortage of so-called critical minerals that could delay the transition to net zero emissions, a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned.
IEA urges action to prevent critical mineral shortage IEA urges action to prevent critical mineral shortage IEA urges action to prevent critical mineral shortage IEA urges action to prevent critical mineral shortage IEA urges action to prevent critical mineral shortage

Copper demand is set to spike 40% according to the IEA

Oonagh Reidy

The 287-page report, entitled "The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions", focused on highlighting the importance of copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements to the energy transition, and provided six recommendations to policymakers to bolster mineral security.
 
Firstly, government must ensure adequate investment in new supply by "creating conditions conducive to diversified investment in the mineral supply chain", the IEA said.
 
Policymakers should also look to promote technology innovation, fostering material substitution, as well as support research and development in recycling. 
 
The IEA also stressed the need to bolster supply chains and boost market transparency and suggested further ESG-related incentives and more international collaboration as other areas for intervention.
 
"Today, the data shows a looming mismatch between the world's strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to realising those ambitions," IEA executive director Fatih Birol said. 
 
"The challenges are not insurmountable, but governments must give clear signals about how they plan to turn their climate pledges into action. By acting now and acting together, they can significantly reduce the risks of price volatility and supply disruptions."
 
The IEA said reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement would mean a quadrupling of mineral requirements for clean energy technologies by 2040. 
 
The manufacture of an electric car requires six times more copper than a conventional car with copper demand set to jump 40% over the next 20 years, while lithium, a crucial ingredient in lithium-ion batteries that power EV's, is set to see a 90% demand spike, according to the IEA. 
 
The IEA said price volatility could also delay clean energy transitions and push up their cost. 
 
The price of copper surged to a 10-year high to over US$10,000/tonne this week, while other commodities including cobalt, lithium and PGMs have also seen significant price gains of late.
 
"Higher mineral prices could have a significant effect," said the IEA.
 
The lag between bringing new supply on stream was also a worry for the IEA, which noted an average 16.5-year lead time from discovery to first production at mining projects.
 
"In the past, strains on the supply-demand balance for different minerals have prompted additional investment as well as measures to moderate or substitute demand, but these responses have come with time lags and have been accompanied by considerable price volatility," the report added.