Mongolia could be the next battleground pitting the US on one side and its biggest adversaries, China and Russia, on the other side. Nicknamed Minegolia because of its abundant reserves of copper, gold, and rare earth metals, the country is home to critical minerals that the US has set sights on that could help accelerate its transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Mongolia Mineral Resources
Reports indicate that senior American officials have already made a visit to the country, which is embedded between China and Russia. The trip is part of an offensive charm as the US government looks to secure crucial minerals for building industrial solar and wind farms. The US is looking to ink a strategic partnership that will allow it to explore the country’s rich mineral resources. It’s following in the footsteps of France, which Has already inked a deal to explore Uranium in the country.
Nevertheless, it faces an uphill task to convince the country that it won’t squeeze its lands for critical minerals only to leave people with an environmental mess. Tensions around logistics and geopolitics, considering where Mongolia is situated, could come into play with China always looking to control key mineral supplies.
Mongolia is highly dependent on China as most of its minerals go to the country for processing or pass through its ports. Given that the economy is highly dependent on mining revenues, rattling China by partnering with the US could be costly.
Main Lithium Deposits
Meanwhile, in the US, Mary Freeman and her husband, Gary Freeman, are staring at a multi-billion opportunity after discovering what could be the world’s richest lithium deposit. In the woods of Western Maine, in a landslide carved into the side of Plumbago Mountain, the couple stumbled upon crystals believed to contain lithium that the US needs for its clean energy transition.
Should the Maine deposit be mined, it could be worth over $1.5 billion. It is one of the few lithium deposits found in hard rock, so it could be of higher quality and faster to process than the one mined from brine.
Separately moon mining is gaining momentum as private companies continue to come up with ways of exploring and setting up the lunar economy. The Space Resources Roundtable at the Colorado School of Mines was the epicenter of where attendees tabled their lunar economic models and legal and policy issues that could pave the way for a lunar economy.
Talks around moon use revolve around an in situ resource utilization that entails the extraction of oxygen, water, and other available materials. The ultimate goal is to produce rocket fuel and set up life support systems while also pulling out metals on the moon for setting up lunar housing landing pads and other structures needed to make it habitable.