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.
A new Sasakawa USA report released today considers the challenges, opportunities, and limitations of creating resilient supplies of rare metals. The report, “Securing Critical Resources in a New Green and Industrial Era,” 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.
The resulting publication addresses the challenges of bringing rare metals from production to product. The report includes expert analyses from business people directly involved in the entire rare metal supply chain and officials from both Japan and the United States, countries that rely on the entire spectrum of these resources for manufacturing devices that range from smartphones and laptops to MRIs, aircraft engines, and electric vehicle batteries.
While the world is not running out of rare metals, developing resilient supply lines can take a decade or more, meaning companies may run short of the materials they need. This report provides readers important insights into the little-studied resource insecurity of rare metals critical for high-tech and green businesses and the associated economic, geopolitical, and environmental risks.
The report suggests that Japan and the United States work collaboratively to understand the rare metals market and work to ensure more transparent, open, and sustainable production, development, and trading of these resources. The report proposes a series of specific recommendations in the areas of international research, collaboration, and education; as well as the development of risk-assessment tools and an international agency for mineral resources. Access the full report online here.