We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

How the metals we need to power technology and energy are spawning environmental havoc, political upheaval, and murder-and how we can do better.

An Australian multimillionaire’s plan to mine the ocean floor.

Garbage pickers in Nigeria risking their lives to salvage e-waste amid nightmarish pollution.

A Bill Gates-backed entrepreneur harnessing artificial intelligence to find metals in the Arctic.

Train-robbing copper thieves in Chile.

These are some of the people in the intensifying global competition to locate and extract the minerals essential for two critical technologies that will shape humanity’s future: the internet and renewable energy. It’s a race that will create new industries, generate enormous wealth, and destabilize the global balance of power. It could propel us to a more sustainable future -or plunge us into an environmental nightmare.

In Power Metal, journalist and author Vince Beiser explores the Achilles’ heel of green power and digital technology: that the manufacturing of our computers, cell phones, electric cars, solar panels, and wind turbines requires enormous amounts of increasingly rare materials-lithium, cobalt, copper, and others-the demand for which is skyrocketing. Around the world, businesses and governments are scrambling for new places and new ways to get those metals, at enormous cost to people and the planet.

Beiser crisscrossed the world to witness this race, reporting on the damage it is already inflicting, the ways it could get worse, and the ways in which we can minimize that damage. The result is a book that is both a gripping read and a sobering account of the battle between what civilization demands and what the planet can withstand. Power Metal is a compelling and important glimpse into this new, disturbing, and exciting world.


Daniel Pink, author of Drive and The Power of Regret
Beiser takes readers on a globe-trotting journey to the mines and scrapyards that are the unlikely foundation of the age of smartphones and green energy. This eye-opening book challenges us to reckon with the unintended consequences of our choices as consumers and citizens - making it a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of our planet.
Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt and Cod
Power Metal should be the next book you read. If we miraculously solve climate change and eliminate fossil fuel, Beiser gives us a whole box (as in Pandora) of new troubles we are facing. It is a lot to think about.
Parag Khanna, author of the New York Times-bestselling Connectography and Move: The Forces Uprooting Us
Electrifying the world is a noble rallying cry in climate activism, but it is at best a lesser evil, as Vince Beiser convincingly illustrates in this bracing tour of how we are destroying the planet in the name of saving it. Taking us along the toxic supply chains of our clean industries, he brings to life today's tug-of-war over minerals, refineries and market share that constitutes the new geopolitics of energy.