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Minerals and Metals for Energy Transition

Renewable technologies such as battery storage systems, low-carbon hydrogen, solar panels, wind turbines, and even the expansion of their transmission infrastructure rely on minerals and metals. A World Bank report, "Minerals for Climate Action: The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition," found that the production of vital minerals must increase by 500% by 2050 to meet the demand for clean energy technologies. Such materials include graphite, lithium, and cobalt, which—paradoxically—produce tremendous carbon emissions during the mining process. Knowing this, the World Bank has developed several measures to ensure that their extraction affects the environment as little as possible.


As per the World Bank’s suggestion, countries producing these minerals must embrace robust ESG standards that protect both the communities and the environment. These nations must plan and invest strategically to decarbonize their production and ensure their competitiveness in a low-carbon economy. Interestingly, this decarbonization of the value chain is also expected to reshape mineral supply chains and create new opportunities for value addition via processing and manufacturing. Businesses in the region specializing in this area can collaborate with NGOs and the public sector, creating an ecosystem of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). These entities can increase the adoption of carbon-reduction technologies, redesign the mining process to meet international standards, and educate the locals to be more sustainable in the process.


To ensure that resource-rich developing countries benefit from their mineral resources and sustainably manage them, the World Bank has also launched the Climate-Smart Mining Initiative. With this program, the bank aims to assist local governments in strengthening their authority over climate-friendly mining practices and building critical institutions, policy frameworks, and legislative capacities. This represents the mechanics driving the public sector’s side in the PPP model mentioned above. With cleaner, more sustainable regions, both the public and private sectors can enjoy a longer-lasting supply of these precious materials.

The growing demand for minerals and metals can be both a benefit and a threat to global sustainability. Therefore, critical action is to be ready and able to cope with the negative impacts. If successful, then sustainable development could be maximized.

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