Critical minerals: a criticality assessment approach

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Abstract

We review the state of the art of minerals criticality assessment (MCA) from different perspectives. In its short history since 2008, MCA has typically involved the use of multicriteria decision analysis, but new methods, including agent-based models, have the potential to be better predictive tools. We also review the indicators of criticality and discuss the challenges for the minerals industry in responding to the need to diversify supply in critical minerals markets. Scarcity in the earth’s crust is not a reliable independent indicator of mineral criticality, but other forms of scarcity that manifest in a predominance of coproduction are important. The availability of global pricing, contracting, and price-risk management mechanisms is less mature for critical minerals markets, and there is potential value in framing an indicator of criticality on this topic and also considering market deficiencies in this regard as targets for intervention. To the extent that minerals criticality demands a mining industry response, it is observed that to date, the major mining companies have not demonstrated much interest, other than in potentially increasing coproduction of critical minerals. It may not fit the business models of large mining companies to enter what are currently small and challenging markets compared to large minerals commodities markets that they specialize in. This leaves the job of bringing new critical minerals mines into production for the time being to mid-tier and small-cap miners. These smaller companies will, in many cases, face stiff technical challenges and the challenges of less-than-ideal markets which bring, among other things, volatile prices.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical Materials and Sustainability Transition
EditorsArda Isildar, Eric D. van Hullebusch, Donald Huisingh
Place of PublicationLondon UK
PublisherCRC Press
Chapter7
Pages102-130
Number of pages29
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9781003218920
ISBN (Print)9781032112213
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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