The United States, Canada, and the minerals challenge
An energy mix enabled by clean technologies will be far more mineral-intensive than its hydrocarbon-based predecessor. Demand for minerals like lithium, nickel, and cobalt is projected to skyrocket over the coming years, with supply chains largely unprepared to scale up accordingly. And procurement of these minerals has been plagued by concerns over environmental impact, human rights violations, and state monopoly over specific parts of the value chain, posing both moral and strategic issues. The onus now falls on policymakers in the United States and Canada to develop resilient, sustainable, and transparent mineral supply chains. As two of the world’s most advanced economies, the US and Canada have the opportunity to take the lead in preempting the emergence of some of the hazards that characterize the oil and gas-based system. It will not be easy; value chains are full of choke-points, and mining operations have not always followed best practices. But to both enable a smooth energy transition and ensure that procurement does not negate minerals’ carbon-reducing benefits, the US and Canada must act now.
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