In a report titled “Elements of Security: Mitigating the Risks of U.S. Dependence on Critical Minerals
,” author Christine Parthemore from the Center for a New American Security
writes, “Growing global demand coupled with the mineral requirements necessary for both managing military supply chains and transitioning to a clean energy future will require not only clearer understanding, but also pragmatic and realistic solutions.” Minerals and rare earth elements
such as lithium, gallium, and rhenium are critical elements for many defense technologies (e.g. jet engines, satellites, missiles, etc.) and alternative energy sources (batteries and wind turbines). Parthemore argues that U.S. policy should focus on preventing suppliers from exerting undue leverage (as China did in 2010
), mitigating fiscal risk and cost overruns, reducing disruption vulnerability, and ensuring the United States is able to meet its growth goals in clean energy and other high-tech fields.
In a report from the U.S. Air War College, author Stephen Burgess writes of the potential for conflict over competition for “strategic minerals” in five southern African states: South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. The report, titled “Sustainability of Strategic Minerals in Southern Africa and Potential Conflicts and Partnerships,” states that growing industrial countries like China will compete, potentially aggressively, with the United States for sustainable access to elements such as chromium, manganese, cobalt, uranium, and platinum group metals. Burgess recommends that the United States become more engaged in southern Africa by providing development assistance to mining communities and developing strategic partnerships.