The need for joined-up thinking in critical raw materials research

Michael H. Stevenson*, John Ludden, Jennifer McKinley, Ishwaran Natarajan, Susan Nash, David Leary, Yichuan Shi, Chenghan Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

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Critical raw materials (CRM) will be a cornerstone of the energy transition in uses such as electric vehicles, power storage for renewables, and solar PV. CRM were recognised early by the IPCC as a prime part of the mitigation effort for climate change, and as such research into the occurrence and genesis of key metals, as well as the sustainability of their mining and remediation should be a priority. However, research is geopolitically influenced by the security of supply concerns of nations or economic groups of nations such as the EU, Japan, USA, India and China. Many research networks and programs are driven to meet nationally determined interests, in particular resource security; and where collaboration does exist it is along geopolitical lines, potentially disadvantaging developing countries and their efforts to implement UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). This contrasts with efforts in research such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which are more collaborative and inclusive and suited to rising to a global challenge. We suggest that international organisations such as the International Union of Geological Sciences with its long international history and SDG focus, as well as its new focus on big data (through the Deep-time Digital Earth program) should be more involved in agenda setting and research prioritisation and promotion of data sharing unhindered by geopolitical considerations. Like climate change, the challenge of critical raw materials is too big to tackle in a competitive, geopolitically-influenced manner.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Early online date04 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 02 May 2023
EventDeep-time Digital Earth Open Science Forum - Salle II at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris , Paris, France
Duration: 09 Nov 202209 Nov 2022


  • critical raw materials
  • Renewable Energy
  • Climate change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economic Geology
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Energy


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