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Is the U.S. Ready for the Coming “Coop-etition” for Critical Minerals?

As geopolitical tensions continue to mount all over the globe, leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries gathering in Hiroshima, Japan last week reaffirmed the need to “manage the risks caused by vulnerable minerals supply chains and build more resilient sources.”   Buried in the boilerplate consensus common to G-7 sessions is real interest in cooperation among the world’s richest democracies – with an undercurrent of concern that competition for scarce resources may pit allies against one another.

During the meeting, the United States and Australia announced a “Climate, Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Transformation Compact” to “enhance individual action and deepen (…) bilateral and multilateral cooperation to expand and diversify sources of clean energy and its inputs.”

The Compact is the latest in a series of bilateral and multilateral initiatives and partnerships undertaken and entered into by the Biden Administration in a push to strengthen critical mineral supply chains and reduce vulnerabilities through diversification of sources.

However, as the New York Times points out“(…) figuring out how to access all of the minerals the United States will need will still be a challenge. Many mineral-rich nations have poor environmental and labor standards. And although speeches at the G7 emphasized alliances and partnerships, rich countries are still essentially competing for scarce resources.”

Call it “coop-etition:” A wary realization that the need to coordinate Critical Mineral policy coexists with the growing awareness that even increased supply of essential metals and minerals may not keep pace with rising demand.  How the U.S. and its allies navigate this new resource relationship – multiplied across several score of Critical Minerals – may be one of the principal commercial, diplomatic and national security challenges of this century.