Making critical materials valuable: decarbonization, investment & ‘political risk’

Gilbert, Paul Robert (2020) Making critical materials valuable: decarbonization, investment & ‘political risk’. In: Bleicher, Alena and Pehlken, Andrea (eds.) The material basis of energy transitions: interdisciplinary perspectives on renewable energy and critical materials. Elsevier, pp. 91-108. ISBN 9780128195345

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Any coherent attempt to restrict warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels will require sustained efforts to decarbonize electricity production and transport infrastructure. Any such moves will have consequences for the demand of certain ‘critical raw materials’, notably cobalt, lithium and platinum group metals (PGMs). This chapter draws on Science & Technology Studies approaches to studying valuation practices and resource-making to examine frontiers of critical material extraction in the DRC (cobalt, lithium) and South Africa (platinum group metals). It traces the role that royalty and taxation rates, stability clauses and political risk assessments play in shaping critical material frontiers in post-colonial contexts. The chapter argues that embedding measures of ‘political risk’ into assessments of critical raw materials based on the needs of wealthy resource-importing countries risks reproducing colonial legacies of violent and unequal extraction. It argues for the need to ‘provincialize’ criticality assessments, starting from resource-rich settings and the strategic agendas that shape their domestic mineral policies.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Cobalt, Decarbonization, DRC, Lithium, Platinum Group Metals, South Africa, Valuation
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Development
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Global Political Economy
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Depositing User: Paul Robert Gilbert
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2019 08:01
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2020 09:12

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Evaluation Cultures & TechnologyG2242BRITISH ACADEMYUnset