The Mining Gap: Critical Minerals and Geopolitical Competition – by Gregory Brew and Morgan Bazilian (Just Security – November 7, 2022)

This week, world leaders are gathering in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt for COP27, the 27th annual United Nations conference on climate change. This year’s conference carries with it the weight of the climate challenge, an enormous threat facing humanity, but also comes at a time of growing volatility in global energy markets, rising energy prices, a food security crisis, and war.

As a result, countries both rich and poor will be focused on immediate security and economic threats. While Russia’s war in Ukraine has convinced policymakers of the necessity of divesting from volatile oil markets, the lack of readily available raw materials and supply chain issues continue to impede rapid transitions toward clean energy.

Specifically, the world needs to expand its supply of critical minerals—graphite, nickel, cobalt, and especially lithium, and the chemicals into which they are refined.

And while COP27 is meant to be part of the journey to organize national efforts into collective solutions, the reality is that geopolitical competition over access to critical minerals is accelerating, both among consumers and producers. The challenge of procuring adequate supplies of critical minerals is thus a key obstacle facing both global decarbonization and international security.

For the rest of this article: