Energy in the New Cold War: Critical Minerals

Aaron Foyer

New Cold War Series:

Fossil Fuels  |  Critical Minerals

Critical mineral distribution in new geopolitical tension

Critical minerals play a vital role in maintaining a country’s economic and national security. It is important for nations to secure access to these resources while also considering the environmental and social impacts of mining and extraction.

Background: Critical minerals are a group of minerals that are essential for the production of high-tech products, such as smartphones, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and defense equipment. These minerals include rare earth elements, cobalt, lithium, and others.

In today’s world, where geopolitical tensions are on the rise, the importance of critical minerals has become more evident than ever. These minerals play a crucial role in maintaining a country’s economic and national security. For example, rare earth elements are used in the production of high-tech weapons systems, such as guided missiles and radar systems. Similarly, lithium is used in the production of batteries for electric vehicles and other energy storage systems.

The dependence on critical minerals has led to an increased competition among nations to secure access to these resources. Some countries, such as China, have a near-monopoly on the production of certain critical minerals, which has led to concerns about supply chain disruptions and increased prices. This has prompted many countries to invest in their own domestic production of critical minerals, as well as to diversify their sources of supply.

In addition to ensuring access to critical minerals, it is also important to consider the environmental and social impacts of mining and extracting these resources. Many critical minerals are mined in countries with weak regulatory frameworks, which can lead to negative impacts on local communities and the environment.



Lithium Resources and Production: A Critical Global Assessment; Report prepared for CSIRO Minerals Down Under Flagship; Department of Civil Engineering