A new ‘arms race’ is on among countries for critical minerals – by Surojit Gupta (Times of India – August 25, 2023)


Commodities are part of our everyday lives. From crude and edible oil to minerals and metals. The shift to clean energy and deployment of clean technologies across the world in recent years has put the spotlight on a group of minerals – cobalt, lithium, nickel, graphite, copper, neodymium, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, silicon, zinc, rare earths and others – that are heavily used in these technologies.

The rise of electric cars, wind and solar projects and battery storage systems has also triggered a massive demand for these critical minerals, leading to a race among countries to secure their supplies.

Electric car sales have soared and estimates show that in 2022 sales were more than 10 million units and about 14% of all cars sold were electric, up from 5% in 2020. This has also led to a surge in demand for battery storage systems.

According to International Energy Agency (IEA), nearly 340 gigawatt capacity was added and the global spending on renewables was estimated at $600 billion in 2022. “From 2017 to 2022, demand from the energy sector was the main factor behind a tripling in overall demand for lithium, a 70% jump in demand for cobalt, and a 40% rise in demand for nickel.

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