The United States and Japan are global leaders in developing new and innovative technologies that increasingly rely on rare metals, on an entirely new set of critical materials, that often come from a single country or mine. The speed of technological change and the growing number of new devices may soon begin to outpace the ability of manufacturers to secure the rare metal this new industrial age requires. Moreover, rare metals supply lines face numerous single points of failure that can lead to catastrophic results.
This Sasakawa USA report considers the challenges, opportunities, and limitations of creating resilient supplies of rare metals. The report is based on a conference held in November by Sasakawa USA in partnership with Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. The first of its kind, the conference brought together more than 20 government, industry, and academic stakeholders in the United States and Japan to discuss the strategic and economic importance of rare metals. It had a specific focus on:
• Examining the business, geologic, geopolitical, production, reputational, and environmental risks companies face in sourcing critical rare metals;
• Presenting data-driven projections on the future requirements of rare metals and on future sources to meet those requirements;
• Assisting companies and countries in identifying resource insecurities and developing strategies to improve the resiliency of supply lines of critical rare metals; and
• Identifying potential areas for U.S.-Japan collaboration to reduce resource insecurities of Japanese and U.S. companies and governments based on the two countries’ shared reliance on critical rare metals.