Business News of Friday, 21 July 2017
A new World Bank report released on Thursday highlighted the potential impacts that the expected continuing boom in low-carbon energy technologies would have on demand for many minerals and metals.
Using wind, solar, and energy storage batteries as key examples of low-carbon or “green” energy technologies, the report dubbed, “The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low-Carbon Future” examines the types of minerals and metals that would likely increase in demand as the world works towards commitments to keep the global average temperature rise at or below 2°C.
The report, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency by the World Bank, said minerals and metals expected to see heightened demand include; aluminum, copper, lead, lithium, manganese, nickel, silver, steel, and zinc and rare earth minerals such as indium, molybdenum, and neodymium.
It said the most significant example was electric storage batteries, where demand for relevant metals: aluminum, cobalt, iron, lead, lithium, manganese, and nickel— could grow by more than 1,000 per cent if countries take the actions needed to keep global warming at or below 2°C.
The report showed that a shift to a low-carbon future could result in opportunities for mineral-rich countries but also points to the need for these countries to ensure they have long-term strategies in place that enable them to make smart investment decisions.
It said in readiness for growth in demand, countries would need to have appropriate policy mechanisms in place to safeguard local communities and the environment.
“With better planning, resource-rich countries can take advantage of the increased demand to foster growth and development,” said Riccardo Puliti, Senior Director and Head of the Energy and Extractive Industries Global Practice at the World Bank.
“Countries with capacity and infrastructure to supply the minerals and metals required for cleaner technologies have a unique opportunity to grow their economies if they develop their mining sectors in a sustainable way,” he added.
The report said the future demand for specific metals was not only a function of the degree to which countries commited to a low-carbon future; it is also driven by intra-technology choices.
“The low-carbon technologies that emerge as most applicable and beneficial will play an important role in defining the commodity marketplace of the next 50 years.
“For example, the three leading forms of alternative vehicles — electric, hybrid, and hydrogen — each have different implications for metal demand: electric vehicles require lithium; hybrid vehicles use lead and hydrogen-powered vehicles use platinum,” the report said.
It said demand for individual metals and minerals will reflect the component mix of low-carbon technologies, corresponding with economic changes and technical developments.
It noted that to position themselves well, countries will need reliable sources of economic data and market intelligence, as well as the capacity to turn that information into plans, investments, and sustainable operations.
The report said based on current trends, it was expected that Chile, Peru, and (potentially) Bolivia, would play a key role in supplying copper and lithium, adding that Brazil is a key bauxite and iron ore supplier; while southern Africa and Guinea would be vital in the effort to meet growing demand for platinum, manganese, bauxite, and chromium.
It said China would continue to play a leading role in production and reserve levels in practically every key metal required under low-carbon scenarios.
It indicated that India was dominant in iron, steel, and titanium, while Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines had opportunities with bauxite and nickel.
A “green” technology future has the potential to be materially intensive, the report stated.
It said increased extraction and production activities could also have significant impacts on local water systems, ecosystems, and communities.
It said as countries develop their natural resource endowments, it would be critical that sustainability, environmental protection, and options to recycle materials be integrated into new operations, policies and investments.
“The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low-Carbon Future” report is intended to contribute to a richer dialogue around the opportunities and challenges for resource-rich countries that a low-carbon future presents.
“The analysis is designed to support policy-makers and other stakeholders in the areas of extractives, clean energy and climate change to better understand the issues involved and identify areas of common interest,” it stated.