Publication Detail

Addressing Vulnerabilities in the Supply Chain of Critical Minerals


Research Report

India ZEV Research Centre

Suggested Citation:
Tyagi, Akanksha, Dhruv Warrior, Karthik Ganesan, Rishabh Jain, Vibhuti Chandhok, Amrita Dasgupta, Swati Dsouza, Tae-Yoon Kim, Aditya Ramji, Deepak Krishnan, Geetika Gupta, Niharika Tagotra, Parveen Kumar, Tirthankar Mandal (2023) Addressing Vulnerabilities in the Supply Chain of Critical Minerals. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-23-37

The global move towards achieving net zero emissions will increase demand for low-carbon and clean technologies such as wind turbines, solar photovoltaics, electric vehicles and energy storage. However, the production of these technologies depends heavily on a few geographically concentrated minerals with limited availability. This report highlights the vulnerabilities in the supply chain of seven minerals: lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, manganese, graphite and rare earths. It examines mineral criticality assessment frameworks and the global concentration of reserves and mineral processing facilities. The report also explores technologies that could reduce global dependence on these critical minerals. Further, it recommends specific actions to improve supply and reduce demand, tracking the critical mineral value chain and co-development of technologies to explore, mine and process minerals. It also talks about the need to develop mineral stockpiles. The report also emphasises circularity and scaling up alternative technologies to reduce mineral demand.

The report has been commissioned by the Ministry of Mines, Government of India to inform the G20 Energy Transition Working Group (ETWG) negotiations.

Key Findings

-Most critical minerals are geographically concentrated in their resources, reserves and production

-Just 15 countries possess between 55 to 90 per cent of global reserves of critical minerals for low-carbon technologies. The same 15 countries also produced 70 to 95 per cent of these minerals in 2022.

-Mine production is already more than 2 per cent of global reserves for manganese, copper, nickel and cobalt.

-Mine production of lithium and rare earths has more than doubled between 2016 and 2022.

-The analysis shows that the focus on clean technologies (solar, wind, batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage, and grid infrastructure) will account for majority of the lithium demand (80–91 per cent) by 2050. Nickel demand from clean technologies is estimated to be between 34-55 per cent of the total demand by 2050, while copper demand is estimated to range between 29 and 43 per cent by 2050. Cobalt demand from the clean energy sector is expected to cross 55 per cent of the total demand in 2050.

-Co-developing the mineral exploration, mining, and processing technologies will ensure the production of minerals scales globally.

-The demand for new minerals can reduce significantly by scaling up the circular economy