The projected shortage of critical minerals required to accelerate the energy transition is an urgent priority for the global community and is expected to be a constraint to achieving shared climate goals.
More critical minerals supply is needed to enable the desired growth in electrification and the deployment of other clean energy technologies such as low-carbon hydrogen. However, the mining and metals sectors face significant constraints, including social, environmental and financial factors.
There is a need for decision makers in the energy and minerals sectors to enhance their understanding of the outlooks for demand and supply of energy and minerals, with a view to strengthening the prospects of timely, just and orderly transitions to net zero carbon emissions.
This symposium, co-hosted by the International Energy Forum and the Future Minerals Forum, presented and compared recent outlooks for critical minerals supply and processing capabilities by leading international organizations and industry sources.
It provided an opportunity for decision makers and experts to exchange points of view on the determinants of the outlooks as well as the challenges and opportunities to advance the energy transition, energy security, and market stability.
The symposium was conducted on Zoom to an invited audience and livestreamed to the public on IEF and FMF digital channels.
Secretary General, IEF
H.E. Khalid Almudaifer
Vice Minister for Mining Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Director, The Payne Institute for Public Policy, Colorado School of Mines
Senior Correspondent, Reuters
Chief Economist, Trafigura
Director Planning and Programme Support, IRENA
Chief Energy Strategist, S&P Global
Senior Analyst – Metals & Mining, Bloomberg
Senior Reporter for Energy and Commodities, Bloomberg
Hon. Frank Fannon
Managing Director, Fannon Global Advisors
President, Canoo Inc.
Alejandra Wood Huidobro
CESCO Member and Non-Executive Director, CODELCO
Discussion Questions and Prompts
Session 1: Outlook Analysis & Scenarios: Global Critical Minerals Supply & Transition Requirements
Prompt: Until recently, the discussion around the energy transition's requirements for critical minerals was limited to mostly questions, and broad statements like "a lot, more, huge" etc. Now we are starting to see major institutions, such as the IEA, IMF, World Bank, and others begin to publish reports and outlooks which translate different outlooks for things like EV adoption, solar and wind deployment, electric grid expansion, and new energy storage technologies into quantities of specific materials.
This prompts several questions:
- How do these forecasts for critical minerals demand compare to each other, and with forecasts for critical minerals supplies?
- How credible are these demand outlooks with technologies, policies, and consumer preferences constantly changing?
- What can the energy modeling community and the mining forecasting industry learn from each other?
- Does a climate ambition and mining reality gap exist, if so, how wide and what can be done?
- Do current demand forecasts and outlooks accurately reflect or consider the challenges the mining sector faces?
- What foreseeable events or developments could cause current outlooks for critical minerals supply or demand to be wildly off target?
Session 2: Navigating Investment, ESG, Price Dynamics & Permitting
Prompt: The Earth contains enough copper, lithium, cobalt, aluminum, or most any other metal needed in the energy transition. The trick is access to the resource and the investment needed to extract it at a reasonable cost – without further climate or environmental degradation. That task is further compounded by the twin modern challenges of both gathering capital to invest in the era of ESG, as well as deploying capital in the face of lengthy and complicated permitting processes.
This prompts several questions:
- Is there a risk of a tradeoff developing between meeting ESG standards versus bringing new supplies online in time to meet climate policy objectives?
- Would changes to permitting regimes result in ample investment and new supplies?
- What are some ways to add pricing transparency to these markets that are currently very niche and illiquid?
- If new supplies can't meet the expected rise in demand, could we see multiple boom-bust pricing cycles for many of these critical materials like we saw recently with Lithium?
- Is the expansion of recycling capacity a threat to new mine investment, a false hope, or the eventual long-run solution?