~ Alan Dupont
As the fossil fuel era fades, critical minerals are set to become the new oil. If not yet ubiquitous, they are the sinews of the emerging green and hi-tech economies.
They are also crucial for defence because they “power the weapons that determine geopolitical primacy”, says security analyst Liam Gibson. Defence needs rare earths for a vast array of applications, including smart bombs, radar, communication systems and advanced fighter aircraft.
This means that they are a strategic asset as well as an economic resource. Only a few minerals have played this role historically.
Silver needed for coinage in ancient times and oil, which still lubricates the wheels of transport and industry, are among them.
The problem for the world is that China has cornered the market in critical minerals, especially the 17 rare earths that are processed into high-value tech metals.