The climate transition requires access to metals and minerals

The climate transition requires access to metals and minerals. Europe has a greater need for metals than the world around it, given our high ambitions for the climate transition. Euromines would like to congratulate our Swedish colleagues from Svemin on an excellent report ‘Climate ambitions and metal needs – opportunities for Sweden and the Swedish mining industry’. The English version of this report was officially launched last week during the Svemin’s Autumn Summit 2021, part of the Raw Materials Week 2021.

Maria Suner, CEO of Svemin, highlights: ‘Wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, electric cars – most of the technologies that will help us switch to climate neutrality require that we have access to metals and minerals’.  Metals and minerals are raw materials of unique importance to society and the needed transition to a sustainable net-zero economy. This report brings together an updated perspective on the future demand for metals and minerals, the impact of the climate transition on metal needs, the supply outlook, and implications for Sweden and the Swedish mining industry. “The faster we want to switch to a net zero society, the higher the demand for metals,” says Katarina Nilsson, project manager for the study.

By 2050, global demand for all the metals and minerals included in this report are expected to grow. For many metals, demand will rise substantially by 2050 – demand for lithium, rare earth elements, graphite, and indium, for example, are expected to increase at least fivefold.

Many factors affect the demand for metals, such as economic development, urbanisation, the metal intensity of our economy, and the recycling rate, to name a few. For many metals, the most critical driver increasing demand up to 2050 will be the climate transition. The climate technologies that underpin the transition to a sustainable society, such as wind power, solar power, electric cars, and batteries, all require metals to a great
extent, and often new metals that have not been used on a large scale so far. In addition, climate change will require a sharp increase in the electrification of society, which in turn will require more metals, especially copper.

These so-called energy-critical metals include lithium, cobalt, nickel, indium, and rare earth metals. Lithium, cobalt, and nickel are metals needed to make batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage. Solar cells use indium while, for example, wind turbines and electric motors use rare earth metals. For these metals, more than half of the future demand will come from climate technologies. Thus, the level of ambition in the climate
transition strongly affects demand – a faster changeover to a net-zero society means higher demand for metals

The Report is available here.


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