The energy transition has been hailed as a path to energy security. But is this true, or do a few countries hold most of the world's minerals?
I'm glad you've corrected some of the figures (copper, silver) for production and reserves, but several are still incorrect. I haven't checked them all (I'm not paid to do this), but I can tell you that those for manganese and zinc are incorrect (wildly underestimated).
It's also worth noting that several of these elements have large scale uses that will be in competition with their use in RE technology (e.g. chromium and nickel in stainless steel). Secondly, I do not think that the figures for graphite are relevant. I would be surprised if natural graphite, which is difficult to purify and mainly used in powder form in lubricants and as a mould release agent, is used in EV technology. Synthetic graphite is already used in large quantities in batteries and for electrodes in electric motors and the aluminium and steel industries and as a moderator in some nuclear reactors (Chernobyl), as it can be made into (very) large lumps and is purer and therefore a better conductor than the natural form. Production (1.9 million tonnes) is already larger than the figure of 1 million tonnes mentioned above and I expect production will be concentrated in locations where the metallurgical industries are based.
Thank you! Big fan of your posts. As a Kiwi, it’s interesting to see the new Australian govt becoming the clean energy behemoth it always should have been
Hannah: many thanks for these useful posts. Your pieces are among the most data rich, evidence supported and informative writings on this platform. You are a world resource yourself. --Jorge
“The surge in demand for minerals for low-carbon tech will be temporary. The transition comes with an initial scale-up stage to build the panels, turbines, and batteries. Think of it like a capital cost. The ‘running’ cost is basically zero. “
Is this really true? I understand the time scales are different. Fill up your tank and you need to refill in a week. Batteries will last significantly longer but you still will at some point replace them. As to recycling we have all kinds of plans and stuff today we can recycle but reality is much different. When you reach scale on these products solar panel , batteries, turbines etc that’s a lot of trash!
I am not against renewables. I personally don’t care how I get to work or heat my house. If there is a better way fantastic but I feel like we should understand what the consequences are.
In the US my guess is mining will have a real hard time try to scale up. We seem to love batteries until they are digging in our neighborhoods.
Ores/Reserves and Mine Production are important.
But they are meaningless without Processing that extracts the Mineral from the Ore.
Processing is almost always very dirty business. The People’s Republic of China dominates Processing of most critical battery minerals even when it does little mining of the relevant ores.
Consequently, the shift to EVs will significantly increase Xi’s geostrategic leverage.
China controls a lot of the ores through geologic happenstance. However, where they don't, they have acted strategically in controlling other aspects of the supply chain. Take cobalt for example. They have been involved in the DRC in terms of processing facilities. They don't appear concerned with labor conditions when their own interests are concerned. Thanks for the info on this.