‘New race to the top’, US DoS’s Fernandez tells summit

Richard Roberts

Editor in chief

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US Department of State under-secretary, Jose Fernandez
‘For a long time we were told the US is talking a great game on clean energy, but where’s the action?’

The US is not trying to play catch-up to China in the great 21st-century race to control Earthly critical minerals supply lines, the country’s under-secretary for economic growth, energy and the environment, Jose Fernandez, told the FT Mining Summit 2023. Most people tuning into the summit would have taken away a different view.

But Fernandez suggested the goal posts had shifted since China started pumping billions of dollars into offshore mines to feed domestic metal processing and manufacturing lines – decades ago – and launched its Belt and Road Initiative 10 years ago.

“Our dream scenario here is that we encourage a race to the top,” the US Department of State (DoS) official said at the Financial Times event.

“Success here is we all adhere to the highest ESG [environmental, social and governance] principles.

“We are not going to get to where we want to go by 2050 unless we’re able to dramatically increase the minerals that we need for [the global energy] transition.”

Mining leaders at the summit said the US federal government’s vast spending initiatives – under banners such as the Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPS and Science Act, and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – and intergovernmental outreach under the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) effectively echoed Chinese government initiatives dating back up to 25 years.

“We are late,” one said.

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