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2023 – Trend Lines and Breaking Points – It’s Time to Buckle Up (Especially in the EV Space)

Happy New Year!

For most of us, the first week of January means it’s time to go back to the grind after an extended period of family time, food coma, rest and – hypothetically, at least — reflection.  It also means trying shake the brain fog and mental rust that has settled in order to dive back into the swing of things.

Today, it’s time to meet 2023 head-on.

If you could use a refresher to get you up to speed on where we are in the critical minerals space, take a look at our Year in Review” post, especially if you missed it amidst the pre-holiday craziness in December.

In it, we argued that in some ways, 2022 was the year in which strengthening supply chains moved from “rhetoric to reality” as much progress was made, including important groundwork to build out a secure North American critical minerals supply chain.  However, we also cautioned that much more remains to be done, and to overcome the many challenges, new alliances will need to be forged.

As Shane Lasley argues in Critical Minerals Alliances 2022, a magazine covering 29 metals and minerals (when counting rare earths as 14)  deemed critical to North American supply chains as well as related policy issues:

 “The optimum solution to laying the foundation for the next epoch of human progress will only be discovered through the forging of unlikely alliances between the woke and old school, environmental conservationists and natural resource developers, liberals and conservatives, national laboratories and private sector entrepreneurs, local stakeholders and global mining companies, venture capitalists and innovators, and everyone else with visions of a cleaner, greener, and high-tech future.”

Now the question is, what lies ahead?

As we look at overall trend lines in the critical minerals space, we see the following themes emerge:

  • A focus on the Super Criticals (see our Year in Review post for more info);
  • the growing importance of geopolitics, with China taking center stage and alliances and partnerships continuing to be forged to reduce reliance on Beijing;
  • the acceleration of the green energy transition which will require vast amounts of critical minerals;
  • as well as industry’s efforts to sustainably green our future by harnessing the materials science revolution.

All of these themes are intertwined, and more may emerge in the coming months, but rest assured that ARPN will be covering these issues extensively as we go forward.

Of course, we are not the only ones to have paused and reflected on what’s to come in 2023.  In a new piece for InvestorIntel.com, editor in chief, critical minerals, Jack Lifton stipulates that “2023 is a breaking point if there is to be an EV revolution/transformation.”

Arguing that “[i]t is not at all certain that high-tech, critical minerals producers and processors, will be ready or even existent by the time the minerals can be delivered to their end-user manufacturers,” Lifton says that “[i]t’s time that car makers performed a due diligence on the critical minerals’ supply space.”

In his view, car makers must — specifically for minerals, metals and manufactured components dependent upon lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, manganese and the rare earths —

  • “[a]scertain whether or not the supply of finished components necessary for the assembly of motor vehicles (…) can meet current and all future demand;
  • and predict and mandate price maximums for critical minerals that they can afford if their products are to be sellable.”

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s Simon Moores says that “2023 will be the end of the start up phase for electric vehicles and battery supply chains” as we are “entering scale up.” He adds: “This may seem like demand (which industry could not fulfill) is falling when it’s high and volatile. A sky high but bumpy ride ahead.”

In the waning days of December the stage was set for 2023 with decisions to come standing to determine national fortunes and human progress in decades ahead.

As 2023 rolls down the runway, it’s time to buckle up.