Use Of Critical Mineral In Electric Vehicles Can Enhance Battery Life: IEA

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report analyzing the use of critical minerals in electric vehicles and found the use of critical minerals important in improving transparency in the supply chain.

It mentions that to make the supply chain of critical minerals transparent, it requires that the companies that manufacture them purchase clean energy technologies. They get the materials they need through an intermediary—in supply chain parlance, a “tier 1” supplier.

It elaborates that the intermediary may source its materials from a different company, who may also source from yet another company—”tier 2″ and “tier 3” suppliers. To make this system function smoothly, it would require gathering sources that may reportedly come from multiple feed sources, leading to a “blended supply.” For example, electric vehicle manufacturers may purchase battery cells that already incorporate lithium, cobalt, nickel, and other materials. It implies that even those that manufacture battery cells themselves may purchase those materials from a commodity trader or other material supplier.

It indicates that the use of electric vehicles can become a more viable option, as clean energy technologies have lower levels of GHG emissions compared with other technologies. This is explained as part of the full lifecycle emissions. Total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of electric vehicles are around half those of internal combustion engine cars on average, with the potential for a further 25% reduction with low-carbon electricity. However, it suggests that lowering mining’s GHG emissions will be crucial in the production of critical minerals to ensure a sustainable, responsible, and reliable supply.

The report finds that there is a need to develop corporate accountability laws while reporting on GHG emissions. It has particularly focused in recent years on Scope 3 emissions. For example, the European Commission’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) requires both large EU companies and foreign companies with EU subsidiaries to disclose their emissions beginning in 2024. It elaborates that it could have the potential to expand disclosure along the whole value chain. It could include scope 3 emissions. It means that, by 2027, the EU Battery Regulation will mandate battery producers to disclose the complete carbon footprint of electric vehicle batteries over their life cycle. It finds that, by using the Product Environmental Footprint methodology, end users must account for the full cycle, from raw material extraction to waste management.

The Role of Renewables in Australia’s Mineral Production

Similarly, for example, Australia is funding efforts in mines to boost renewable electricity generation to support the critical minerals sector through the Powering Australia Plan and the Powering the Regions Fund. This indicates that bringing down emissions at mines can help those mines become more competitive, particularly as countries increasingly apply carbon pricing to supply chain emissions, consider carbon border adjustment mechanisms for traded commodities, and introduce traceability policies, such as battery passport requirements. Moreover, power can be shared from such grids with local mining communities at low cost, allowing households access to clean energy.

The report sheds light on the importance of building Some industry groups and initiatives are coming together to combat GHG emissions in the sector. For example, International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) has collaborated with manufacturers to commit to introducing emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040. Other coalitions of companies, such as the First Movers Coalition, which is made up of companies that use large quantities of aluminum, have committed that at least 10% of their primary aluminum procurement volume will be low emissions by 2030.

Moreover, the reportedly critical mineral supply chain can serve as a prohibitive barrier to developing new operations in areas where cost-efficient renewable sources of energy or GHG abatement technologies and
methods are unavailable.

For example, the Global Mining Guidelines Group, which has an Electric Mine Working Group, aims to accelerate the adoption of all-electric technologies in mining. These initiatives and targets showcase that companies are coming together and expressing their desire to work with low-carbon minerals. Individual companies are also making strides to tackle GHG emissions in their supply chains through full electrification or by implementing electric equipment.