The Next Resource Shortage? Challenges in Specialty Metals and New Energy Sources

On Thursday, March 17 from 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm, the Global Energy Center hosted a discussion on the new resource challenge – specialty metals. Obscure resources we paid little attention to are increasingly playing critical roles as we switch to new energy sources, and as advanced and military technologies proliferate globally. A lack of understanding and production of these materials will limit their development and restrict the deployment of critical technologies.

Most notably, as the global community transitions from fossil fuels to clean energy, demand for rare metals will increase dramatically. Potential shortages and volatile prices will keep some technologies out of reach or limit the implementation of our most effective energy solutions. And with Beijing allocating vast sums to produce and process these materials, geopolitical risks abound.

The panelists explored this budding war over the periodic table by discussing the following questions and more:

• What are the geopolitical implications of rare metals, and is the situation analogous to the geopolitics of hydrocarbons?
• How does the production and processing of rare metals differ from more traditional commodities and how does that affect nascent green, high-tech and defense technology production?
• How geographically dispersed are rare metals, and what are the risks of one country dominating production or processing?
• What can the international community do to increase transparency in the rare metals market and mitigate the industry’s environmental impact? How should each country examine resource security?

The Hon. Richard Morningstar, Founding Director of the Global Energy Center, provided welcoming remarks and moderated the discussion.