In this report, authors argue that a neglected area in addressing the mineral scarcity challenge is the private sector’s current trajectory for geological mineral exploration of key minerals and innovative initiatives on material efficiency and recycling where possible. We term this approach Smart Mineral Enterprise Development (SMED) which entails a partnership between public and private entities to consider pathways whereby public sector data sharing on geology can be coupled with research innovations in the private sector both upstream and downstream of mineral supply. Just as smart energy grids harness efficiencies in electricity supply and demand through a dynamic process of communication, SMED processes can do the same for key technological bottlenecks in mineral supply. They focus on cobalt to highlight the bottlenecks; identify alternative supply sources based on current exploration and recycling technologies; propose ways in which the international legal framework could be adapted to promote investments in critical minerals; and consider ways by which the public sector can assist the private sector in developing a SMED process that would bring forth more efficient and effective entrepreneurial activity to meet our green technology needs.

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Columbia Centre on Sustainable Investment