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Completion of critical mineral projects will ensure enough supply to meet global climate pledges: IEA

The global market for critical minerals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper has doubled in the last five years, but the world will have enough supply to meet national climate pledges if planned projects materialize, the International Energy Agency said.

The agency released its first annual Critical Minerals Market Review, which shows that the energy sector was the driving force behind lithium demand tripling over 2017-22, while cobalt demand jumped 70 percent and nickel requirement rose 40 percent over the same period.

The market for energy transition minerals touched $320 billion in 2022, the agency said, adding that investments in critical mineral development increased 30 percent in 2022, up from 20 percent in 2021, while investment for lithium alone jumped 50 percent in 2022.

In a statement, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said, "We are encouraged by the rapid growth in the market for critical minerals, which are crucial for the world to achieve its energy and climate goals."

Birol said major challenges remained, especially to ensure that supply chains were secure and sustainable.

The IEA also said that if all planned critical mineral projects worldwide were realized, then mineral supply could be adequate to support climate pledges announced by governments, but warned against the risk of project delays.

The agency also flagged the risk of concentration of mineral supply. The share of the top three critical mineral producers in 2022 has either remained unchanged or increased further over the last three years, especially in the case of nickel and cobalt. The agency also said greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of mineral output remained around the same. 

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