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  • Writer's picturePandwe Gibson

Securing Minerals for the Energy Transition: The Themes That Will Inspire Collaborative Action



In a world becoming increasingly conscious of climate change and environmental sustainability, the race to secure minerals for the energy transition is on. From lithium for batteries to rare earth elements for wind turbines and electric vehicles, these minerals are the bedrock on which the green future stands. But as demand skyrockets, a few questions emerge: How do we ensure a steady supply chain? Can we do it sustainably? And perhaps most importantly, how do we foster collaboration to address these challenges collectively?


Enter the Securing Minerals for the Energy Transition (SMET) community, a diverse array of stakeholders spanning industries, governments, and environmental groups, all united by the common goal of navigating this critical juncture in our energy landscape. They recognize that securing these minerals isn't just about meeting energy demands; it's about shaping the very fabric of our future — one that's both prosperous and sustainable. 


The SMET community aims to tackle the complexities of mineral sourcing, processing, and recycling through global collaboration. Below are the five themes driving this collaborative endeavor and how they can inspire action on a global scale.


Initiating Open Policy Dialogue

Engaging in open policy dialogue can serve as a catalyst for constructive conversations between public and private sectors. The aim of these discussions should be to illuminate best practices for securing access to critical minerals. Regional forums offer individuals an opportunity to dissect risks and policy discrepancies under the guidance of moderation, like the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency's Collaborative Framework on Critical Materials for the Energy Transition.


Open policy dialogue also offers clarity and direction amidst regulatory flux. These discussions provide investors with invaluable insights into the trajectory of governmental policies on critical minerals so investors can anticipate and navigate potential market fluctuations induced by policy shifts — thus enhancing market stability. Businesses can also remain abreast of evolving policy dynamics, empowering them to adapt proactively and thrive in a regulatory environment conducive to sustainable mineral access. 


Understanding and Supporting Investments

Central to this theme is a comprehensive understanding of the investment needs inherent in these value chains, spanning exploration, extraction, processing, and recycling. By discerning these needs with clarity, stakeholders can strategically mobilize investment to bridge the prevailing supply-demand gap. This entails fostering a conducive environment for both public and private investment, incentivizing innovation and sustainable practices throughout the mineral lifecycle.


Targeted investment initiatives can also facilitate the development of infrastructure and technologies essential for enhancing mineral extraction efficiency, promoting circularity, and minimizing environmental impacts. Through collaborative efforts to mobilize investment, stakeholders can unlock the financial resources necessary to propel the energy transition forward, ensuring a robust and resilient supply of critical minerals for generations to come.


Innovation Acceleration

It's imperative that we identify and harness new technologies and systematic innovations to scale up mineral sourcing, processing, and utilization. These allow individuals to develop and deploy cutting-edge solutions that enhance efficiency, sustainability, and resilience across critical mineral value chains. Targeted investments in research and development can spur the creation of transformative technologies, from advanced extraction methods to novel recycling processes, that optimize resource utilization and minimize environmental footprints. 


Identifying Gaps in ESG Standards

Existing ESG frameworks may fail to address critical mineral challenges, and this is unacceptable. Stakeholders must conduct thorough evaluations and scans to pinpoint discrepancies and inefficiencies within current ESG standards. Streamlining these frameworks entails forging connections between voluntary standards groups and international standards bodies to harmonize practices and ensure alignment with global sustainability objectives. This not only enhances transparency and accountability but also fosters consistency and comparability in reporting practices. 


Skills Across the Value Chain

Building skills across the mineral value chain is essential for effectively navigating the complexities of the energy transition. Investing in skill development programs tailored to these needs can empower workers and businesses to meet evolving demands and seize emerging opportunities. Moreover, fostering collaboration between industry, educational institutions, and government entities can facilitate knowledge exchange and talent cultivation, ensuring a steady pipeline of skilled professionals equipped to drive innovation and sustainability across the mineral value chain. Through strategic investments in skill-building initiatives, stakeholders can enhance workforce readiness and resilience.


These themes will allow us to create the global collaboration we need to usher in a better, more sustainable future. I am honored to be speaking on a panel in New York City that will discuss these topics and environmental friendliness in greater detail. You can also read my peer-reviewed article here for more information about strategies and technology's impact on these challenges.

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