Electrification in Europe, U.S. Drives Demand for Metals

Europe and the United States have joined China in pushing metal prices up, as electrification in those regions boosts demand for metals. Global commodities trading giant Trafigura’s CEO Weir said at a summit in Singapore that prices had previously been driven mainly by China, which consumes around half of the world’s metals. Automakers and governments have been making a global push to boost electrification and the production of electric vehicles (EVs), with corporations in Europe also face regulatory pressure to cut carbon footprints.

Some countries, especially in the West, have started to realize that leaving most of the mining and processing capacity for critical metals to China is no longer consistent with their long-term plans of supply security.

Weir added that those governments need to be more efficient, without lowering standards, when approving new mines so that the industry can develop the metals needed to meet their energy transition demands.

In terms of the energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has hit European industries hard, Weir argued that Europe has done a reasonable job of cutting its reliance on Russian supply.

The continent is expected to get through this winter as gas storages are filled up and there is steady flow of LNG.

Trafigura has complied with European sanctions since Russia first invaded Ukraine in February and has reduced Russian oil trade significantly. Weir underlined that it has resulted in a lot of newly established or small companies using old vessels to move Russian oil to the East.

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