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It all comes down to costs

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Metals for energy transition: international pricing & top producers

(Ref. for pricing: tradingeconomics.com - access: Jan-2023)

(Ref. for top producers: pubs.usgs.gov/periodicals/mcs2023 - access: Jan-2023)

  • Base metals (2023 USD price)

    • Copper: 8,276/ton / 13,887/ton (Jan/2024)top producers of Cu: Chile, Peru, DRC, China

      • App: conducts both heat & electricity very well

    • Nickel: 19,644/ton - top producers of NiIndonesia, Philippines, Russia, New Caledonia

      • App: 68% are used in stainless steel; used in geothermal power plants, EVs, battery cathodes

    • Lead: 2,252/ton - top producers of PbChina, Australia, U.S., Mexico

      • App: Lead–acid batteries

    • Aluminum: 2,184/ton - top producers of AlChina, India, Russia, Canada

      • App: Solar panels & wind turbines

    • Steel: 711/ton - top producers of pig IronChina, India, Japan, U.S.

      • Iron ore: 110/ton (Australia, Brazil, China, India)

        • App: 98% of iron ore goes into steel-making

    • Zinc: 2,800/ton - top producers of ZnChina, Peru, Australia, U.S.

      • App: Galvanizing, wind power

  ​

  • Battery metals (2023 USD price)

    • Lithium (Li2CO3): 46,700/ton (Q2/2023) / 13,17/ton (Jan/2024): a drop of around 80% in 2022 - top producers of LiAustralia, Chile, China, Argentina

      • App: Cell phone, laptop, EV, and stationary batteries​

    • Cobalt: 32,688/ton - top producers of CoDRC, Russia, Australia, Philippines

      • App: Battery cathode​s

    • Graphite: 2,281/ton - top producers of natural CChina, Mozambique, Madagascar, Brazil

      • App: Battery anodes. (ps.: graphite is a non-metal, but a good electricity conductor).

    • Manganese (MnO2): 4,360/ton - top producers of Mn: South Africa, Gabon, Australia, China

      • App: Ferroalloys, batteries

  

  • Critical metals

    • Rare earths oxides: top producers of rare-earth-oxide (REO) equivalent: China, U.S., Australia, Burma

      • Neodymium USD 140,000/ton / 113,20/ton (Jan/2024)

        • App: Permanent magnets for electric motors of wind power & EVs

  

  • Rare metals

    • Gold: USD 1,860/ounce - top producers of Au: China, Australia, Russia, Canada

      • App: Jewelry (47%), physical bars (17%), electrical & electronics (connectors, contacts) (6%)

    • Silver: USD 22/ounce - top producers of Ag: Mexico, China, Peru, Australia

      • App: World’s best conductor, used in electronics, solar panels etc; around 10% of global silver use is for solar PV (cost of silver accounts for 10% of the PV module mfg. cost)

    • Platinum: USD 940/ounce - top producers of Pt: South Africa, Russia, Zimbabwe, Canada

      • App: PEM Electrolyzers

    • Palladium: USD 1,700/ounce - top producers of Pd: South Africa, Russia, Canada, U.S.

      • App: Catalytic converters for vehicles, solar panels

Metals for energy transition – demand by cleantech asset

Figure 1 shows metals demand for cleantech assets.

Figure 1: Metal demand for cleantech asset

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Fig 1 princing metal
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