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Latin America and the Caribbean may become a key region to diversify the offer of minerals that are critical to the energy transition

Latin America and the Caribbean may become a key region to diversify the offer of minerals that are critical to the energy transition

Joaquín Proenza, Professor of Mineral Fields at the University of Barcelona: “The flexibility of the power system, cybersecurity and the safety of the technology and power supply chain are becoming increasingly important.”

At present, “safety in the technology and power supply chains are increasingly important”, and this safety involves the mining activity, remarked Joaquín Proenza, Professor of Mineral Fields at the University of Barcelona, during a master lecture at the 2024 Arpel-Naturgas Week, which took place on April 8-12 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

In this context, the purpose of an energy transition towards renewable energies depends on mineral availability, explains Proenza, who emphasized that at present, “mining policy is energy policy.”

The fast deployment of “clean” energy technologies required by the transition involves a significant increase in mineral demand, resources that are present in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In his opinion, the region may capitalize on this opportunity to “become a key region to diversify the offer of the critical metals/minerals” required to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles and all sorts of electronic equipment.

The production of several mineral commodities is more geographically concentrated than that of oil and natural gas and China has built a leading position, particularly in copper and lithium, based on its processing capacity. According to the speaker, "China processes 60% of rare earths" and that is a point to be taken into account, as Proenza pointed out.

In this context, the new mining activity and an increasing recycling capacity will be critical to sustainability in the supply of minerals such as copper, lithium, cobalt, nickel, and a long list of rare-earth elements.

During his lecture, called “Critical Minerals for Energy Transition”, Joaquín Proenza affirmed that mining resources involve an opportunity but also a risk. Thus, he recommended certain key aspects to minimize risk and avoid failing in the attempt to leverage these resources.

Among other things, he proposed: ensuring proper investment in new supply sources, promoting technology innovation throughout the value chain, multiplying recycling, strengthening international collaboration (producers and consumers), adding more rigorous environmental, social and governance standards and improving market transparency.

Finally, he said that the energy transition is necessary, but it is a complex challenge for which there are no simple solutions, "and with current technology it definitely implies mining".

Link to the entire lecture by Joaquín Proenza at the 2024 Arpel-Naturgas Week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzESah5PnA8&t=1322s

  • Tags:
    • Energy Transitions
    • Gas

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