The International Energy Agency (“IEA”), through a recently released report, says that the rise in the price of different clean energy metals may jeopardize the plans of different countries to switch to clean forms of energy, such as the use of electric vehicles.
According to the IEA, attaining the ambitious goals set out in the provisions of the Paris Accord is likely to trigger a fourfold growth in the demand for minerals by 2040. However, the limited investment made to bring new mines into production could propel the cost of ecofriendly energy upwards by a significant margin.
Fatih Birol, the head of the IEA, says that data at the organization’s disposal points to an existing mismatch between global climate ambitions in relation to the needed minerals to bring those goals to fruition. If those mismatches aren’t quickly addressed, Birol warns, worldwide progress towards clean energy will not just be slow but expensive too.
The report points out that generally, clean forms of energy utilize a lot more critical minerals in comparison to similar fossil-fuel applications. A case in point is an electric car, which needs more than five times the quantity of critical minerals that go into making a conventional car running on gasoline.
Clean energy metals have seen a surge of demand in China, and that has pushed up prices. This increased demand has also come at a time when supply chains are facing major constraints due to the coronavirus pandemic. Speculators are also betting big on these metals, which tat has also impacted the price of the stocks of mining companies.
Of concern to the IEA is the lack of supplies of even critical minerals across regions and countries. The global agency cites the example of cobalt, for which the D.R. Congo commands 70% of the global sources of this metal. Another example is China, which processes approximately 80% of all the critical minerals in the world, in addition to commanding a 60% share of global cobalt processing.
This dependence on a few countries for these badly needed resources makes the world vulnerable to the whims of those countries, as was seen last year when Australia’s criticism of China’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in China banning its companies from importing coal and beef from Australia, a decision which negatively affected the exports of Australia.
The IEA also urges speed in the work of moving a mining project from development to production. Currently, this takes approximately 16 years, which is far too long given the demand for clean energy minerals.
Uranium is another option that governments are looking at as they phase out fossil fuels, and companies that are involved in this sector, such as Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE American: UEC), have a bright future as the uptake of uranium energy deepens.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE American: UEC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/UEC
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