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What are critical minerals?

Essential resources for our future

Critical minerals (also known as new economy minerals) are a range of essential metals and minerals used in emerging technologies such as electric vehicles, renewable energy products, low-emission power sources, electronic devices, and products for the medical, defence and scientific research sectors.

The International Energy Agency estimates demand for critical minerals will increase, tripling under current global measures to reduce emissions, and increasing by up to six times if efforts to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 escalate.

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Critical minerals and their uses

Aluminium (Bauxite)

  • Solar and wind technology
  • Food packaging
  • Aircraft
  • Electric vehicles and battery storage

Antimony

  • Storage batteries
  • Electrical cable sheathing

Chromium

  • Alloy in stainless and heat-resistant steels

Cobalt

  • Key component of lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles and battery storage
  • Wind technology
  • Ceramics
  • Solar and wind technology
  • Electric vehicles and battery storage
  • Electricity grids
  • Musical instruments

Graphite

  • Key component of lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles and battery storage
  • Pencils

Indium

  • Electric technology
  • Touch screens/flat screen TVs
  • Solar panels
  • Windshields of aircraft and cars

Rare earth metals and yttrium

  • Medical imaging
  • Electronic and computing equipment
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Wind turbine blades
  • Electric vehicles

Rhenium

  • Oven filaments
  • X-ray machines
  • Solar technology

Silica

  • Solar technology
  • Wind technology
  • Glass

Titanium

  • Electric vehicles and battery storage
  • Wind technology
  • Fireworks

Tungsten

  • Solar technology
  • Wind turbine blades
  • Drill bits
  • Filaments (light bulbs)

Vanadium

  • Solar grid batteries
  • Jet engines
  • Car suspension
  • Building frames
Last updated
21 February 2024
Last reviewed
18 January 2024