Closing the Infrastructure Gap for Decarbonization: The Case for an Integrated Mineral Supply Agreement

Saleem H. Ali, Sophia Kalantzakos, Roderick Eggert, Roland Gauss, Constantine Karayannopoulos, Julie Klinger, Xiaoyu Pu, Kristin Vekasi, Robert K. Perrons

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Significant amounts of feedstock metals will be required to build the infrastructure for the green energy transition. It is currently estimated, however, that the world may be facing an "infrastructure gap" that could prevent us from meeting United Nations Sustainable Development Goal targets. Prior investigations have focused on the extractive aspects of the mining industry to meet these targets and on looming bottlenecks and regional challenges in these upstream market segments. Scant attention has been paid to the downstream processing segments of the raw materials value chain, which also has a high degree of market concentration. Growing international tensions and geopolitical events have resulted in a shift toward "reshoring" and "near-shoring" of mining processing capabilities as regional powers attempt to make metal supply chains more secure. While increasing resilience, these shifts can also dilute the overall effectiveness of the global mining supply network and subsequently hamper the world's ability to close the green energy infrastructure gap. We argue that broadening the remit of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to include coordinating these mission-critical metal processing functions can mitigate these issues. The G20 is one potential forum for enabling an integrated mineral processing agreement under the auspices of IRENA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15280-15289
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume56
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 15 2022

Keywords

  • climate change
  • critical materials
  • decarbonization
  • energy transition
  • infrastructure gap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry

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