Rare earth elements and key minerals will be the next geopolitical wrestling field
A few days ago, an “Economic Survey Report” released abroad emphasized that the transition to clean energy means that the demand for key minerals (CM) will increase significantly. Supply of critical minerals and rare earth elements (REEs) will be the next “geopolitical battleground” after crude oil, the report said.
“Rare earths and CMs are critical to the production of renewable energy (RE) as we know it. The problem is, they are only produced in a few countries and processed in even fewer. Without sufficient REE and mineral resources, the global A synchronized energy transition to non-fossil fuels is likely to be difficult to achieve. This will leave many countries with fossil fuel assets in limbo.”
Cobalt, copper, lithium, nickel and rare earths are critical to making electric vehicles and batteries and harnessing the power of the sun and wind. Solar photovoltaic plants, wind farms and electric vehicles typically require more minerals than fossil fuel power plants.
For example, a typical electric car requires six times as much mineral resources as a conventional car, and an onshore wind farm needs nine times as much mineral resources as a gas-fired power plant.
The need for CMs and rees
The survey pointed out that although the demand for CM will increase due to the global preference and emphasis on renewable energy, the global CM supply chain is highly concentrated and unevenly distributed. In the case of increasing demand, the imbalance in the distribution of resources brings supply risks.
Critical minerals (CMs) such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and graphite are critical to battery performance, lifetime, and energy density, while rare earth elements are critical to permanent magnets that are vital to wind turbines and electric vehicle motors.
Electricity networks require large amounts of copper and aluminum, and copper is the cornerstone of all electricity-related technologies.
“A well-crafted multi-dimensional minerals policy will reduce our dependence on minerals and address future issues. The country has resources of nickel, cobalt, molybdenum and heavy rare earths, but further exploration is needed to assess their reserves.”
The need for a strategic reserve
It is necessary to establish a strategic mineral reserve in the same way as a strategic petroleum reserve to ensure a continuous supply of minerals. In addition, policies should consider investing in internal research, including technological innovation for mineral exploration and processing, and the development of recovery, reuse and reuse (R3) technologies.
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