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Analysts Warn That Minerals ‘Super Region’ Could Pose Threat to the West

Experts are warning of the potential danger to the US should a minerals ‘Super Region,’ backed by Saudi Arabia, be established.

According to the Saudi plan, the mineral-rich regions of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia would join together to control the supply of “rare earth” elements essential to modern life and the global energy transition.

Critical minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt are essential components in many of today’s rapidly growing clean energy technologies. The United States is currently competing with China and Russia to secure supplies of these important metals.
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At the Future Minerals Forum hosted by Saudi Arabia, the initiative was described as a “historical opportunity for Saudi Arabia to create a new sustainable mining industry from scratch” by the chairman of Canada’s Vale Base Metals. However, concerns exist that the “Super Region” could limit the supply of crucial minerals to Western nations, particularly the United States.

At the event in Riyadh, Wood Mackenzie released a “blueprint” for the formation of the minerals “Super Region,” estimating that approximately $400 billion in capital expenditure would be required by 2030.

But various analysts express concern about the potential implications of this initiative, particularly regarding potential geopolitical leverage by China and Russia should they gain control of the world’s essential minerals. There are also calls to pay attention to a potential sway towards China for the minerals.

However, not everyone is convinced that the formation of a minerals “Super Region” would automatically translate into developing world producers sending most of their minerals China’s way. Elizabeth Sidiropolous, who heads the South African Institute of International Affairs, suggests that it won’t be as simple as the narrative of all developed nations working with China and Russia. She argues that agreements will ultimately depend on different benefactors from various corners of the world.

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