WASHINGTON, D.C. – New analysis from the International Energy Agency (IEA) acknowledges the wide range of minerals needed for future energy technologies, and concludes that mineral supply constraints could jeopardize the deployment and increase the cost of key energy technologies needed to tackle climate change. The IEA’s report underscores the need for increased investment in responsible, secure minerals supply chains that will underpin the energy transition.
The mining industry has consistently highlighted lengthy permitting timelines as an obstacle, with the average permitting timeline in the U.S. taking a decade – or more. Similarly, the report recommends “resource-owning governments can support new project development by reinforcing national geological surveys, streamlining permitting procedures to shorten lead times, providing financing support to de-risk projects, and raising public awareness of the contribution that such projects play to the transformation of the energy sector.”
National Mining Association (NMA) president and CEO Rich Nolan said, “The IEA’s analysis reaffirms that deployment of key energy technologies is incumbent on a secure and reliable supply of minerals.” He continued, “It’s essential that U.S. mining policy recognizes the urgency of bringing additional mineral production to market under world-leading environmental and labor standards. We must better utilize our vast mineral resources to build the domestic supply chains critical to our energy future and a sustainable economic recovery.”
The IEA’s analysis shows that investment in the technologies that will drive demand for a range of key minerals, such as lithium-ion batteries, electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels, is far outpacing the investment in mineral supply. Furthermore, the report highlights the huge increases in mineral supply needed to meet projected demand from a range of advanced energy technologies.
- Lithium demand could grow by more than 40 times by 2040, followed by graphite, cobalt and nickel (around 20-25 times).
- Copper demand for grid lines more than doubles by 2040.
- Cobalt demand could be anything from 6 to 30 times higher than today’s levels.
- Rare earth elements may see three to seven times higher demand in 2040 than today.
The IEA’s analysis also includes recommendations for actions governments and companies can take to promote security of mineral supplies. They include conducting periodic assessments of the demand and supply prospects for essential minerals to inform strategies aimed at ensuring security of supply as well as providing policy signals to ensure timely investment in new mines.
The IEA’s report comes as U.S. mineral import reliance has reached alarming levels. The U.S. is now entirely import dependent for 17 key mineral resources, and more than 50 percent import dependent for an additional 29 mineral commodities. U.S. mineral import reliance has nearly doubled over the past 20 years.
The full report can be accessed here: https://www.iea.org/events/the-role-of-critical-minerals-in-clean-energy-transitions-world-energy-outlook-special-report
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