In the latest episode of the Energy in Transition podcast — the first of a three-part series on critical and strategic minerals — Hans Smit from Ocean Minerals joins Council CEO Leslie Beyer for a deep dive on what these minerals and metals are, what goes into producing them, and why they’re so important to the global economy and the future of energy.
“The reality we face as the world transitions into this alternative energy is the need for metals to underpin these new technologies.”Hans Smit, President & CEO, Ocean Minerals
New technologies, including electric vehicle batteries and battery storage, need rare earth and critical minerals for production. Smit said sourcing the minerals is becoming difficult in today’s environment.
“Part of the challenge we face moving forward is that the terrestrial sources and traditional sources of these minerals are becoming a challenge. Are we able to get them in a cost-effective manner and can we get them without doing more detrimental damage to the earth?”
The accessibility of these minerals has become exponentially more important with the U.S. push towards renewables. Smit said environmental and supply chain risks are impacted by the geopolitical environment and China’s dominance and control in the refining of rare earths.
“Part of the problem America has, for example, is that rare earths mined in America are shipped to China to be refined and then the finished product comes back,” Smit said.
With the push towards electric vehicles in the U.S., especially by the Biden Administration, these issues should spark a realization that there shouldn’t be such a vilification of oil and natural gas.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is the oil and gas industry is far more reaching than the gas in your vehicle. I don’t know why we are vilifying something that’s such a fundamental part of our life,” Smit said.
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