Energy Transition

Critical mineral circularity | Fantasy or feasibility 

byCarson Kearl

Few question the importance of critical mineral availability in maintaining energy transition progress. An important aspect of the use of base metals is “full recyclability,” the concept where these metals don’t break down during their use and can be reused indefinitely. Nickel, copper and lithium are examples of base metals with full recyclability which makes them arguably the most important for battery technology. In terms of batteries needed to meet Enverus Intelligence© | Research’s (EIR) forecast for EV adoption, EIR sees a peak of ~50 million LDV batteries in the late 2030s for net new mineral demand. This is due to the substantial potential for battery recycling to reduce the requirement for future mineral production. 

Tesla has achieved an impressive ~95% of total material recovery from its existing battery recycling program and that number is expected to climb as processes are innovated and refined. Copper recycling already accounts for upwards of 20% of global supply, even though only half the copper available to be recycled ends up in an appropriate disposal facility. 

Will the supply of these materials be tight well into the first half of the century? Probably, but it is unreasonable to discount the potential windfalls of recycling and innovation around circularity as incapable of making a difference. 

Highlights from Energy Transition Research

  1. EVOLVE 2023 – Driving the shift: Battery tech and metals – This presentation explores the evolution of energy consumption in transportation from molecule to electron. It assesses potential impacts on fossil fuel consumption, possible hurdles to widespread adoption of electric vehicles and the effects on critical metal markets.
  2. Electric vehicles – A call on capital – This report examines demand for key minerals, steps underway and areas, particularly in mineral recycling and battery technology, where innovation is most impactful.
  3. Calling bottom on Henry – EIR’s monthly update on oil and gas fundamentals and their corresponding short-term price views.

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About Enverus Intelligence®| Research
Enverus Intelligence Research, Inc. is a subsidiary of Enverus and publishes energy-sector research that focuses on the oil and natural gas industries and broader energy topics including publicly traded and privately held oil, gas, midstream and other energy industry companies, basin studies (including characteristics, activity, infrastructure, etc.), commodity pricing forecasts, global macroeconomics and geopolitical matters. Enverus Intelligence Research, Inc. is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a foreign investment adviser. Click here to learn more.

Carson Kearl

Carson Kearl

As an associate on the Energy Transition Research team at Enverus, Carson is the lead analyst on EVs and critical minerals. He was previously part of the macro team at Enverus and has experience in power at a private consulting firm. He studied economics at the University of Alberta, focusing on industrial organization and macroeconomics.

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