Schneider Electric warns of critical minerals, metals shortfall

Schneider Electric is one of the sponsors of this year’s African Mining Indaba has emphasized industry partnership in meeting critical minerals and metals demand

The call comes after an International Energy Agency (IEA) report indicated that the Mining, Minerals, and Metals (MMM) industries’ clean energy transition will require the quadrupling of mineral requirements for (clean energy) technologies by 2040.

Rob Moffitt, president of MMM at Schneider Electric emphasized that the supply of critical minerals and metals could fall short as soon as 2025.

“In order to gear up for MMM’s clean energy transition, we will require a lot more exploration, innovation, and collaboration to meet our sustainability goals. That said, minerals and metals such as copper and lithium are vital components in this journey and without commitment and investment we will not have enough supply to meet demand,” said Moffitt.

Moffitt’s statement also echoes the sentiment at the Mining Indaba where concerns have been raised regarding the shortage of critical minerals and metals that are required across a spectrum of clean energy resources such as solar panels, wind turbines, and battery storage.

According to the IEA, EVs (electrical vehicles) and battery storage will account for about half of the mineral demand growth from clean energy technologies over the next two decades, spurred on by surging demand for battery materials.

“By weight, mineral demand in 2040 is dominated by graphite, copper, and nickel. Lithium sees the fastest growth rate, with demand growing by over 40 times in the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS). The shift towards lower cobalt chemistries for batteries helps to limit growth in cobalt, displaced by growth in nickel,” notes the IEA.

“Africa has an important role to play in meeting demand for critical minerals and metals.  For example, the continent has vast lithium resources which is why leaders must come together to establish a lithium hub that will meet escalating demand,” comments Moffitt.

According to the British Geological Survey Report, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Namibia and Mali have a combined 4.38 million tons in lithium resources.

Schneider Electric has already mobilised to support the MMM industry in its efforts to meet the demand for critical minerals and metals in the transition to a cleaner energy posture.

The company’s EcoStruxure for Mining, Minerals and Metals architecture builds a sustainable, efficient, and responsible MMM business through digitally integrated power and process.

Together with AVEVA, which is wholly owned by Schneider Electric, EcoStruxure for Mining, Minerals and Metals creates integrated digital environments and redefines the energy journey to optimise production and value chain performance throughout the entire project lifecycle.

This also falls in line with IDC’s 2022 Energy Transition Survey which notes that 42.1 percent of metals and mining companies report a “lack of good data on energy usage/CO2 is a significant barrier to meeting their CO2 reduction goals”.

Apart from supply, mines also have to meet their individual decarbonisation targets “The MMM industries can benefit significantly from the deployment of, for example, microgrids which allow for self-contained, on-site energy generation from greener sources that can improve sustainability, reliability, and resilience.

“Using on-site energy more efficiently improves mining processes’ productivity, reliability, and safety. Critical is the integration of energy management, automation and software, which we refer to as the sustainability triad, to boost efficiency of industrial infrastructure in an open digital model assisting organisations to achieve their goals timeously,” said Moffitt.

“Ultimately, through our focus on power and process, we work with our customers to drive improvements in efficiency, sustainability, resilience and agility of their operations,” Moffitt said.

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