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The War over Rare Metals (La guerre des métaux rares)



Original Language: French | 276 pp. | January 2018

2 Seas Represents: Dutch, Nordic and North American rights.

Rights sold: Spain (Península/Planeta), Italy (LUISS University Press)

Over 22,000 copies sold.

Index in English available


Our future depends on a set of elements that few of us have even heard of. In this surprising and revealing book, Guillaume Pitron unveils what rare metals are and why the announced energy transition is deeply problematic.

Our everyday electronic gadgets, the world’s most powerful armies, and the fate of our planet depend on them. These metals have become the building blocks of modern society; their properties are now essential for nearly all our electronic, military, and “green” technologies. But their growing use is not without devastating environmental, economic, and geopolitical consequences.

Pitron traces these elements’ hidden paths from mines to our living rooms, from the remote hills of China to the frozen Gulf of Finland, providing vivid accounts of those who produce, trade, and rely on rare metals.

The War over Rare Metals delves into the economic and geopolitical issues surrounding these “conflict minerals,” blending tales of financial and political struggles with glimpses into the human lives that are shattered by the nations’ race to secure them.

Just like oil, iron, and bronze revolutionized previous eras, these metals will radicalize our era. The challenges this book reveals, and the solutions it proposes, makes it an essential reading for our rare metal age.

A book that will change the way the world thinks about green technology. We better rethink quickly, because it is a game of chess, and we are losing.

« After the steam engine and the internal combustion engine, « green technologies » are
guiding humanity through a third energetic and industrial revolution. As the first two, such a
revolution needs a primary resource. A resource that is so critical that energeticians,
technoprophets, heads of State and military strategists acknowledge its importance as « the
next oil ». But what is it and how do we get it? Most probably, you don’t have a clue yet. » — Guillaume Pitron

Guillaume Pitron is a Le Monde- Erik Izraelewicz Prize-winning journalist. He currently writes for Geo, National Geographic as well as Le Monde Diplomatique, and he has written several documentaries. The War over Rare Metals is his first book.