Unlikely Critical Minerals Alliances 2022
Critical Minerals Alliances 2022 - September 12, 2022
Last updated 9/13/2022 at 5:28am
Coming together to build North America's clean energy and e-mobility future
The shift away from the fossil fuels that powered the Industrial Revolution and transported humankind through the 20th century, and toward the clean energy technologies that will propel us into the future, has the world at an inflection point – the decisions we make on how to supply, use, and recycle the minerals and metals that are the basic building blocks of the Renewable Energy Revolution will shape the world we leave for posterity.
The optimum solution to laying the foundation for the next epoch of human progress will only be discovered through the forging of unlikely alliances between the woke and old school, environmental conservationists and natural resource developers, liberals and conservatives, national laboratories and private sector entrepreneurs, local stakeholders and global mining companies, venture capitalists and innovators, and everyone else with visions of a cleaner, greener, and high-tech future.
As a journalist that has spent 15 years covering the minerals sector, I have witnessed strong passions for and against mining. Both have their merits – every aspect of the human experience relies on minerals dug up from the earth; yet mining is a destructive endeavor with a bygone legacy of not rehabilitating the scars of digging up the elements of innovation.
Minerals and metals dug up from the earth, however, are the very foundation upon which the clean energy future will be built.
The World Bank Group estimates that more than 3 billion tons of minerals and metals will be required to build the EVs and renewable energy infrastructure needed to achieve the climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement – the more ambitious targets set by global leaders during the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference will require even more mining, sooner.
While recycling will eventually offer a substantial supply of the minerals and metals needed to continue building a (hopefully) brighter future, it will take an enormous amount of new mining to provide enough battery materials, rare earth elements, copper, and other minerals and metals critical to the Energy Transition. This is above and beyond the exciting advances in cutting-edge technologies that are being made possible by material scientists discovering new ways to leverage the unique properties of previously obscure elements – creating new demands for minerals and metals that previously had few uses.
Should mining for the materials critical to our clean energy and high-tech future be done under the strict environmental and social laws of the U.S. and Canada, and under the watchful eye of North Americans keeping close tabs on what is going on in their backyards, or exported to countries with low regard for the environment and human rights?
The social and environmental issues associated with supplying the minerals critical to building America's low-carbon dreams were addressed by Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Farley.
"We have to bring battery production here, but the supply chain has to go all the way to the mines," he said during an interview with Detroit News. "That's where the real cost is, and people in the U.S. don't want mining in their neighborhoods. So, are we going to import lithium and pull cobalt from nation-states that have child labor and all sorts of corruption, or are we going to get serious about mining?"
Beyond the exportation of social and environmental issues, there are economic and geopolitical implications of being heavily dependent on imports of minerals and metals.
"America is in a race against economic competitors like China to own the EV market – and the supply chains for critical materials like lithium and cobalt will determine whether we win or lose," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. "If we want to achieve a 100% carbon-free economy by 2050, we have to create our own supply of these materials, including alternatives here at home in America."
Critical Minerals Alliances 2022 offers in-depth insights into more than 30 minerals and metals needed to build the low-carbon and high-tech future, current and potential North American sources of these elements of innovation, and the efforts being made to leverage the rich mineral deposits found in Canada and the U.S. to build the next great human Age.