Critical minerals: A realistic assessment

Sustainable energy pathways are vital for populations

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Topic: Opinion

Critical minerals: A realistic assessment

Sustainable energy pathways are vital for populations all over the world.

With this in mind, we need to appreciate the real-world impacts of scenarios and policies aimed at ramping up renewables and electric vehicles (EVs).

There are many elements that filter into this, a central one being the role played by critical minerals. These minerals, such as copper, cobalt, silicon, nickel, lithium, graphite and rare earths underpin the development of renewables and EVs.

The International Energy Agency (IA) says that in its Net Zero Emissions (NZE) by 2050 Scenario, demand for critical minerals quadruples by 2040. It is a pace never seen before in history.

The purpose of highlighting this should in no way detract from the importance that OPEC attaches to the role of renewables and electrification in our energy future.

Our Member Countries are investing heavily in renewables, in all stages of their supply chains, and participating in the development of EVs.

However, we do need to carefully consider the nature of such an expansion of critical mineral requirements. Is this kind of expansion truly feasible? What are the implications? How sustainable is it? And how important is oil and gas to the expansion of critical minerals, as well as renewables, EVs and grids.

In the mentioned IEA scenario, by 2040, copper demand rises by 50%, rare earths demand almost doubles, cobalt demand more than doubles, and nickel demand is close to tripling. These are nowhere near the largest increases either.

Graphite demand grows almost four times, and lithium sees a nearly ninefold expansion by 2040, underlining its crucial role in batteries.

This will require the construction of a huge number of new mines. Back in 2022, the IEA said that by 2030 alone, the world would need to build 50 new lithium mines, 60 new nickel mines and 17 cobalt mines.


By: HE Haitham Al Ghais, OPEC Secretary General

Copyright: Fresh Angle International (
ISSN 2354 - 4104

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