Briefing paper

In June 2019, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Blue Green Alliance (BGA) brought together a group of engaged stakeholders from the mining, labor, environmental, and think tank communities for a workshop to begin the process of building consensus on a path forward for a critical minerals strategy. Participants in the conversation recognized the need for a more fully developed narrative around the importance of critical minerals; a multi-stakeholder effort to create principles to underpin a critical minerals strategy that can guide policymakers; and a more extensive consensus-building and outreach process to open dialogue with affected communities and relevant constituencies. The Chatham House rule discussion produced several important points for policymakers:

  • Demand is growing: Critical minerals are necessary to all of the key energy technologies of the future, including solar, wind, energy storage, and electric vehicles (EVs).
  • The United States is falling behind: Despite having abundant reserves, most critical minerals are not mined in the United States. Moreover, the United States is virtually absent from the global supply chains for these minerals.
  • Recycling is a vital component: To complement the mining of critical resources, the recycling industry will need stronger domestic market signals and greater demand.
  • Policy is in its early days: There remains a lot of scope for developing clear industry standards and public policy that prepares for a low-carbon future while protecting workers, local communities, and the environment and driving domestic growth.
  • Stakeholder engagement matters: An inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach to coalition building is an important avenue for addressing the issue of sustainable mining in a low-carbon future and building durable support for a path forward.

This briefing paper summarizes this productive and inclusive conversation in this area, though the workshop only scratched the surface. We hope the discussion prompts further work on this important issue.

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