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26 July 2023

Market tightness and striving for a resilient, diverse,  
and responsible energy transition 

Welcome to the Circulor monthly newsletter, where we aim to bring you the latest insights on progress toward more resilient, transparent and responsible global supply chains.  

The critical minerals market has doubled in size over the last five years and could more than triple again by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Critical Minerals Market Review. This growth, as well as a rapid and secure energy transition, is not, however, fait accompli.  

Three critical supply-side questions remain. First, can future supplies keep pace with rapid demand? Second, will these supplies come from diversified sources? And third, will growing volumes come from clean and responsible operations?  

Market tightness is increasingly becoming the norm with companies investing directly in upstream operations and growing policies seeking to ensure adequate and sustainable mineral supplies. IEA notes that 100 international critical mineral policies have been enacted in the past few years alone. With implications for trade and investment, international relations in critical minerals are ramping up.  

Mineral-dependent nations are pursuing agreements and investments with mineral-rich regions, coupling offerings with differentiation that can come with higher ESG standards. Meanwhile, these same mineral-rich countries are introducing measures that require processing to be done within their borders to lure facilities and industrial know-how from further downstream. 

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Circulor’s regulatory requirements roadmap (above) is for EV batteries only and assumes enactment in July 2023. Due dates will shift out if the enactment is delayed

Transparency via actual material traceability is becoming an increasingly evident solution to monitor the resilience, diversification, and responsibility in this tighter market dynamic. The U.S. Clean Vehicle Tax Credit, the EU Critical Raw Materials Act, and the EU’s Battery Regulation that just became law, are just a few of IEA’s 100 policies that point to its advantages amidst today’s market challenges, and this graphic timeline illustrates how traceability and product transparency are being applied to, over time, improve resource, climate, and energy security.  

More detail on these trends, as well as a number of others, can be found below. We look forward to continuing to bring you these global insights both here, as well as on and LinkedIn.  

What we are reading...

Key part of IRA still up for debate 
U.S. policymakers are still formulating the requirements of the IRA’s Clean Vehicle Tax Credit. A key hurdle is defining a ‘foreign entity of concern’, which cannot be included in battery component and critical mineral supply chains after 2024 and 2025, respectively. Automakers, miners, and labor unions are in separate camps, with automakers seeking flexibility and miners and labor groups advocating for reduced foreign involvement. With only partial guidance, lack of clarity is creating uncertainty on how to comply, according to Bloomberg.  


Procurement leaders pursue CSR and Digital Transformation 

In their 12th Annual Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2023, Deloitte shares that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has seen a significant rise in importance for Chief Procurement Officers, matching digital transformation as a top priority. 

Emerging technologies, such as AI and digitalization tools, require procurement to rapidly refine operating models, talent strategies and advance adoption of technologies to take advantage of the opportunities.

African investments to couple with labor and environmental standards 

E&E News reports that with Africa holding a third of the world’s critical minerals, the Biden Administration is increasing its investments on the continent to open, secure, and diversify access to minerals necessary for greater climate and energy security. Following the Dec. 2022 U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit, the larger diplomatic strategy could spur $6B of investment in African communities, largely focused on energy, food security, infrastructure and digital connectivity as Africa faces the brunt of climate change. 

ESG reporting becomes less manual and subjective—and more trusted 

As demand for proof in responsible and sustainable operations grows, blockchain is increasingly recognized as providing the transparency, security, and immutability needed to ensure credible and standardized reporting. Such a development could usher in a new era of sustainability, where ESG performance is accurately reported and used to drive sustainable business practices. TS2 has more here.  

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Volkswagen and Circulor track cobalt – VW Responsible Raw Materials Report

Volkswagen Group released its third Responsible Raw Materials Report, outlining strategies for responsible sourcing, particularly primary materials for electric vehicle batteries. Circulor is working with VW to help them in their responsible and sustainable sourcing commitments, piloting cobalt traceability as part of their due diligence strategy. 

What we’re sharing…  

Goodbye Claims, Hello Proof.  

What is supply chain transparency? And how can upstream activity be made visible by tying it to the products we buy? Circulor explains digital identifiers and how they create greater responsibility and circularity—watch here

Battery Passport readiness 

With a growing number of global battery regulations, and having participated in a number of battery passport industry initiatives, Circulor shares its learnings on today’s battery passport readiness. Firstly, data interoperability is already happening at scale. Secondly, supply chain engagement is key. Thirdly, it’s about more than meeting regulations, and finally, neutral, trusted data is critical to success and trust. Read more. 

Carbon emissions tied to the flow of materials 

Entering a new era of sustainability means that a growing number of regulations call for carbon emissions to be tracked and attributed at the product level and applied across entire supply chains. EU regulations, including CBAM, ETS, ESPR, and the Battery Regulation, require such proof. Circulor enables informed decisions, goal achievement, and enhanced environmental accountability. Read more. 

Proven closed loop and sustainable lithium with Rock Tech

Rock Tech Lithium Inc. reports it has made significant progress in the engineering, development, and financing of its German lithium hydroxide converter plant and Canadian Georgia Lake mining project. Working closely with Rock Tech, Circulor is providing supply chain provenance and emissions traceability for the refinery and its upstream suppliers, authenticating its German-made lithium hydroxide with the lowest possible environmental impact. Read more

If you would like to know more about the topics we have discussed above or would like to see a demonstration of our PROOF Platform, then you can get in touch here.

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