Critical Minerals: U.S. and S. Korea Discuss Deeper Cooperation

by | 31. Jan 2024 - 10:39 | Politics

Ministers convened on expanding the bilateral partnership and making supply chains more resilient.

Ministers from South Korea and the United States met in Seoul today to discuss deeper cooperation on critical minerals and energy, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reports. South Korean Second Vice Industry Minister Choi Nam-ho hosted Jose Fernandez, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment to explore how the bilateral partnership can be strengthened.

South Korea’s tech industry, consisting of semiconductors, electric vehicles, and battery production, is exceptionally resource-hungry. However, the country lacks deposits of the required critical minerals such as gallium or rare earths. To address this, the government announced a new strategy last year to become less dependent on imports, especially from China. 

Also part of this strategy is South Korea’s membership in the 2022 initiated U.S.-led Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) that aims to build resilient critical mineral supply chains and connect member states with resource-rich countries. Under the MSP, the U.S. and South Korea have already initiated multiple projects, including exploring rare earth projects in Vietnam, a country with considerable, mostly untapped, rare earth resources.

On top of the U.S. and South Korea, the MSP encompasses 11 more members, such as the European Union and Australia. Resource-rich Australia has recently sought South Korean and Japanese investment to expand its critical mineral sector and published a list of 52 investment-ready projects. Resources from Down Under could fuel tech industries abroad while generating jobs and developing Australia’s mining industry.

Photo: iStock/Oleksii Liskonih

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