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PwC Report: Materials Shortage Threatens Manufacturing

Seven core manufacturing industries – including the renewable energy sector – could be seriously affected by a shortage of minerals and metals, which could disrupt entire supply chains and economies, according to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In Minerals and metals scarcity in manufacturing: A “ticking time bomb”, PwC surveyed some of the largest manufacturing businesses across manufacturing, chemicals, automotive, energy/renewable energy, aviation, metals, infrastructure and high-tech hardware to see what impact such a scarcity would have, and where, over the next five years.

The risk of scarcity across all sectors is expected to rise significantly, leading to supply instability and potential disruptions in the next five years, the report says.

Some 79 percent of respondents from the renewable energy sector are experiencing instability of supply, according to the report.

Among the minerals & metals on the “critical” list are:

  • Lithium: used in wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries in hybrid cars
  • Beryllium: used as a lightweight component in military equipment and in the aerospace industry. it is used in high-speed aircraft, missiles, space vehicles and communication satellites.
  • Cobalt: a material used in industrial manufacturing. Used in jet turbine engines and automotive rechargeable batteries.
  • Tantalum: used in mobile phones, computers and automotive electronics
  • Flurospar: used in construction, cement, glass, iron and steel castings.

There have previously been accusations that China may be hoarding such materials.

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