Minerals and raw materials in support of energy transition - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
6 December 2022
15:30–17:00

Beirut time

Expert Group Meeting

Minerals and raw materials in support of energy transition

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Location
  • Online
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Energy transition minerals play an essential role for clean energy technologies and, therefore, sustainable energy transition. They are also important for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 7 and 13 with an indirect impact on SDGs 3, 5, 8, 12 and 15 in the local context.

As part of its work on extractive industries as an engine for sustainable development in the Arab region, and within the framework of the International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development, ESCWA organizes this expert group meeting to collect expert opinion on the role of minerals and raw materials in energy transition. It will identify some of the key challenges and opportunities for developing a sustainable mining sector in the Arab region. Substantial inputs from the meeting will feed into a forthcoming technical paper on ‘The Role of Minerals and Raw Materials to support the Energy Transition in the Arab Region’, planned to be published in 2023.

Outcome document

  • The Arab region is rich in resources and produces many minerals such as ferro-alloy metals, non-ferrous metals, industrial minerals, and precious metals.
  • As the world pursues net-zero goals, the demand for critical minerals such as cobalt, manganese, lithium, graphite, nickel and copper is set to increase by as much as four times over the next two decades due to increase in the deployment of clean energy technologies such as solar PV, wind turbines, electric vehicles and electricity network.
  • The increase in electric vehicles will lead to 10x demand for batteries by 2040 as compared to today, resulting in a surge in the demand for critical minerals for battery production.
  • The high demand for minerals has resulted in an increasing price trajectory which is accompanied by volatility leading to uncertain revenue flows and unstable export revenue for governments. This restricts long term investments by private companies and effective public spending.
  • Lack of robust, publicly available geological data may hinder competition in development of mineral resources.
  • The Arab region can provide a leadership role in the development of critical minerals and must have a consistent and reliable operating environment to attract long term capital investments.
  • Capital for exploration and mine development is increasingly tied to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance and hence countries and companies need a clear and integrated ESG strategy.
  • Purchasers of critical minerals and their consumers are demanding ESG-friendly supply chain, ranging from “mine-to-magnet” and “mine-to-battery.
  • There is lot of investor interest in critical minerals projects, however jurisdictional risk remains one of the most significant hinderance.
  • Costs and productivity in mining operations directly impact operations and may potentially delay growth plans. New entrants will therefore have to focus on maximizing value through heightened investments in technology and workforce.
  • Regional collaboration is required, especially when it comes to mineral processing technology
  • A public/private partnership is an important way to establish a critical minerals supply chain. 
  • Global, transnational and national risks run through the mineral value chain and must be mitigated.
  • Governance challenges do not just matter for stakeholders in mineral-producing countries, but they have global implications as weak governance, opacity and corruption can disrupt the supply chains of transition minerals.
  • Unsustainable mining has a high impact on indigenous people in both developed and developing countries and governance risks affect mining communities, artisanal and small-scale miners, mining companies, local businesses and farmers.
  • Transparency, accountability and multi-stakeholder dialogue are needed across the value chains of transition minerals to maximize opportunities and mitigate risks.
  • Governments, companies and civil society must act now to strengthen mineral sector governance.
  • The mining sector is one of the most masculine and the average percentage rate of female participation in mining is only 14%.
  • Women are underrepresented in almost all occupations in the mining sector, including as technicians, craft and related trade workers, machine operators, as well as in professional, managerial, and leadership positions. There are great variations in terms of the gender pay gap depending on the context, educational level, occupation, etc.
  • Countries often do not collect segregated data for men and women and significant efforts are required to address gender gaps.
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