Nearly 50 countries from every continent – including major emerging producers and consumers of critical minerals – gathered today with industry leaders, investors and civil society at the first IEA Summit on critical minerals and clean energy to share experiences and discuss effective action plans. on critical minerals to ensure rapid and secure energy transitions.
This international summit, the first of its kind, is based on ministerial mandate awarded to the IEA in 2022 to continue its work on critical minerals, the materials at the heart of key clean energy technologies such as wind turbines, electric vehicles and solar panels. Governments around the world have asked the IEA to provide recommendations on options for diversifying supplies of essential minerals and the manufacturing of clean energy technologies. To achieve this, the IEA is creating a new Energy Security and Critical Minerals Division within its Secretariat, dedicated to these issues.
“The level of excessive concentration we see today in critical minerals markets is unlike any other major commodity we rely on in the modern world. History has shown us that failing to properly diversify supplies and trade routes of essential resources carries serious risks,” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA. “Ensuring a secure and sustainable supply of essential minerals for the clean energy transition has quickly become a top priority for governments, businesses and investors around the world. The IEA has been working on this issue for years and has acquired a leadership role, as evidenced by the broad and high-level participation at this summit. With many stakeholders now questioning how well prepared they are for this new reality, the IEA is expanding and deepening its work to help countries around the world develop robust and resilient clean energy supply chains.
The first annual AIE Critical Minerals Market Reviewreleased in July with a new online data explorer, shows that the record deployment of clean energy technologies is driving huge demand for minerals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper. Developing new strategies to meet this new wave of demand was at the center of discussions among participants at today’s Summit. Six key areas for action have been identified, including: 1) accelerating progress towards a diversified mineral supply; 2) unleash the power of technology and recycling; 3) promote transparency in markets; 4) improve the availability of reliable information; 5) create incentives for sustainable and responsible production; and 6) strengthen international collaboration efforts.
“Promoting inclusive dialogue must be at the forefront of the essential minerals agenda as we address this complex and multifaceted issue as part of the clean energy transition,” said Dr Birol. “Through its analysis and data, the IEA’s mission is to ensure that critical minerals become a symbol of international cooperation rather than a symbol of resource anxiety.”
The Summit resulted in six key actions to ensure a safe, sustainable and reliable supply of essential minerals:
- Accelerating progress towards a diversified mineral supply: To support countries’ climate and clean energy ambitions, it will be necessary to significantly increase the supply of many minerals and metals. Progress in diversifying supply sources has also been limited in recent years. Delegates agreed on the need to accelerate progress towards a diverse and sustainable supply of essential minerals. Starting with the 2021 historical report The role of critical minerals in clean energy transitionsThe IEA has continually focused on the topic of critical minerals, with particular emphasis on the need to expand supply to support net zero targets while ensuring a diverse and secure market.
- Unleash the power of technology and recycling: Participants highlighted the importance of harnessing the full potential of technology and recycling to alleviate potential supply strains. New technologies can reduce energy and water requirements during extraction and processing, optimize extraction methods, product design and end-of-life processes to improve resource efficiency. The IEA will also undertake an in-depth study to examine effective recycling approaches covering all potential sources such as e-waste, industrial waste, end-of-life batteries, wind turbines and permanent magnets.
- Promoting transparency in markets: Some critical minerals markets are characterized by limited price transparency, which can introduce volatility and hinder new investments. Consumers are also increasingly demanding more information about risks throughout the supply chain. Participants highlighted the need to promote transparent markets that facilitate new investments. by strengthening due diligence and traceability practices. The IEA will strengthen its market surveillance capabilities, including supply and demand projections, as provided for in the G7 five-point plan for critical mineral security. In 2023, the inaugural edition of the AIE Critical Minerals Market Review provides a comprehensive market perspective. The report will be produced regularly, as the IEA already does for oil, gas, electricity, renewable energy and other areas of the energy system.
- Improve the availability of reliable information: Data is essential to ensure the smooth functioning of the market and to enable businesses and policy makers to set priorities and resolve potential choke points. The IEA has long played a role as the leading provider of accurate and up-to-date data. Together with its partners, the IEA will play a leading role in exploring how this experiment can enable the sharing of public data on critical minerals.
- Create incentives for sustainable and responsible practices: Summit participants highlighted the importance of encouraging sustainable and responsible production of essential minerals such as rewarding environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts and expediting approval of new facilities without relaxing legal and regulatory protections. The IEA Monitoring the critical minerals policy monitors policy developments and ESG concerns, in addition to working with governments and other stakeholders to develop new policy directions aimed at reducing the negative impacts of mining production.
- To favor Iinternational collaboration: A recurring theme throughout the Summit was that the growth in demand for critical minerals cannot be solved by a single country or company. Strengthen international collaboration efforts between governments, market actors, civil society and international organizations is crucial to addressing these challenges in an inclusive manner. The IEA has a long history of facilitating dialogue between leaders from government, industry and civil society through events like the Summit.
Looking ahead, the IEA will hold a ministerial meeting in February 2024, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Agency. The 2024 Ministerial Conference will provide a key opportunity for countries to assess the impact of critical minerals on the changing landscape of international cooperation on energy security and climate change, including the role of the IEA in ensuring adequate supply safe, sustainable and responsible critical minerals for clean needs. energy supply chains. This will include announcing the next phase of the IEA’s voluntary Critical Minerals Security Program, which will include storage options and other measures designed to ensure transparent and resilient supply chains based on experience and the information shared.