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December 13, 2021 – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) currently reports that global metal demand for renewable energies could increase by 3 billion tonnes by 2050. Relevant raw materials for steel production, such as silicon metal, molybdenum, nickel and vanadium, would be particularly affected. EU stainless steel prices rose by over $100 per tonne in December. And LME and SHFE are positive today.

Stainless Espresso: Enormous metal demand for renewable energies until 2050
Stainless Espresso: Enormous metal demand for renewable energies until 2050

Enormous metal demand for renewable energies

Up to three billion tonnes of metals are needed, in addition to new materials and processes, for the conversion to renewable energies. This is the result of a recent study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Shortages of silicone, molybdenum, nickel and vanadium

With the exception of lead, all currently relevant metals for renewable energy production are in supply deficit by 2050 if production rates are not significantly increased.

Nickel and vanadium up to 75% undersupplied

Silicon metals and molybdenum have a gap of up to 20%, copper would be cumulatively undersupplied by about 40% by 2050. However, the supply gap will hit battery metals such as nickel, vanadium, cobalt and graphite particularly hard. Nickel and vanadium, both of which are also used in steel and stainless steel production, are expected to be undersupplied by as much as 65 to 75%.

According to the study, in order to reduce CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, the share of renewable energies must increase from the current ten to 60 per cent, and the share of fossil fuels must decrease from 80 to 20 per cent. The current supply of metals would not be sufficient to meet the resulting demand.

Recycling can only absorb part of it

Some of it can certainly be made up through recycling, but a considerable part will have to be mined. Currently, for example, it is assumed that recycling of Li-ion batteries will not start before 2030. Because there will not be enough batteries for economic recycling until 2030. This is likely to support metal prices in the long run.

EU stainless steel scrap

As reported last week, US stainless steel scrap prices are holding at high levels and have even risen further. Similar reports are now coming from Europe. Especially in Italy and France, there is a high demand for stainless steel scrap, which has already caused prices to rise by about $112 per tonne of 304 and 316 in December 2021.

LME and SHFE: Nickel calm, aluminium rises

The commodity markets had already closed Friday with quiet values and also started the new week on Monday in a consistently neutral to positive manner. Nickel is moving at a stable level on the LME and SHFE. Aluminium has risen by about 2% in Shanghai and is up by about 1% on the LME this morning. The other base metals are currently friendly with slightly positive values.

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