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.