Technology

Recycling can ease critical minerals scarcity, not solve it

MINING.COM
·
November 14, 2023
E-waste recycling plant - image created with generative AI.

Demand for critical minerals to power the global energy transition is forecast to skyrocket in the years ahead, while supply is expected to fail meeting the world’s needs unless alternative ways of securing critical metals are applied, experts warn.

It is a bumpy road ahead from a credit risk perspective due to moving parts, analysts at DBRS Morningstar said in a note on Tuesday. These include the role of governments to de-risk investments in exploration and mining innovation and how high critical metals prices remain.
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They also note that the energy transition trend may lead to rapid depletion of reserves and even shorten mine lives, which will put pressure on cost structures, affecting the overall business risk profiles of miners.

One way to mitigate these effects, experts agree, is by creating innovations and alliances that will reshape mining operations to meet the surging demand.

One of the alternatives currently available is the extraction of critical metals from used products, such as electronics or e-waste, as well as from mine tailings.

Ahmad Ghahreman is a materials engineering expert and the CEO of Cyclic Materials, a company that offers a sustainable solution to the demand for critical minerals for electric vehicles and batteries. He believes the world needs to embrace both the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and the challenges of extracting and processing minerals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper.

Recycling, he said, can offer a sustainable pathway to meet rising demand for these minerals, reducing society’s reliance on mining.

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