SECRETARY BLINKEN: Jose, thank you so much. Thanks for bringing us together. It’s wonderful to see everyone here. Thank you for taking the time to come together this afternoon.
To each of you, both those from the Mineral Security Partnership countries and those from minerals-producing countries, this is I think one of those sessions where, as we say, it gets real. This makes a difference, a concrete difference, and we’re very anxious to hear especially from all of you today.
Let me just say a few words at the top about why we’re here.
In June, the United States, along with several key partners, many of whom are here today, launched this partnership because we recognize that critical mineral supply chains are simply vital to our shared future. And I think that’s an understanding that is getting more and more widespread and deeply rooted in all of our countries.
As everyone in this room knows very well, we face a profound climate crisis that requires us to transition to clean energy technologies, like electric vehicles, like solar, like wind power, which offer us an effective way to both cut carbon emissions and create good-paying jobs.
Critical minerals are at the heart of this transition. They’re essential components of the technologies that will power our clean energy future, like electric vehicles and batteries, wind turbines, solar panels.
To ensure that these technologies can actually be deployed quickly, we know that we have to build resilient, diverse, and secure critical mineral supply chains by supporting more successful critical mineral projects. So this, I think, is a shared understanding and one that we are brought together to work on.
Another objective of this partnership, the Minerals Security Partnership, is to support projects that adhere to high environmental, social, and governance standards. We want to make this a race to the top, not a race to the bottom.
Too often, the relationship between minerals-producing and minerals-purchasing countries has been extractive and characterized by abusive working conditions. Often, it’s left behind environmental degradation and devastated communities.
We want to break this cycle through meaningful collaboration and consultation with local communities near mining sites, and especially with groups that have historically been neglected. And we aim to make sure that minerals-rich countries benefit from all stages of the value chain, from extraction to processing to recycling. That’s ultimately how we can make sure that each project actually serves your communities and uplifts your citizens.
Now, we’re already beginning to see new projects that are supporting economic growth on all sides. Just to cite one example, a graphite mine in Balama, Mozambique, which employs hundreds of local workers, contributes millions of dollars in community development, and undermines the aims of those who would sow conflict. The graphite from this mine will soon be sent for further processing to a plant in Louisiana, where it will create more jobs and where it will provide graphite used for batteries by American electric vehicle companies.
The United States and our MSP partners stand ready to support you as we make more of these projects a reality. That’s, as I say, where it really gets real, where we’re turning the goals of this partnership into practical projects.
Now what that support will look like varies, of course, from project to project. For some projects, it could mean that the United States or a partner country helps with reducing the risk of the project, including by providing a loan guarantee or debt financing. And I know that the chair of Export-Import Bank, Chair Lewis, will have a lot more to say about that in a few minutes. For other projects, it could mean connecting companies with our countries’ private sectors or supporting them with technical assistance through our embassies.
We understand that minerals production and processing requires lots of investment and undertaking lots of risk. Through the MSP, we are committed to helping with both.
So mostly what we want to do today is to hear from everyone here how we can work more closely together on our shared goals, what challenges you’re facing as you develop these resources, what opportunities are there that you see that are not being fully realized, and how can the United States and other MSP partners help advance your critical minerals industries. Those are the questions I’d like to begin with putting on the table, and mostly I’m eager to hear from all of you.
So we look forward to deepening the partnership in the months ahead. This is something that I think can make a profound difference on something that is – the word “critical” is attached to critical energy minerals. This really is critical, and we’re grateful for everyone being here today and for the work that we’re doing every day together.
Let me stop there. Thank you.