Attempts by governments to gain access to critical raw materials in the Arctic, such as lithium and nickel, are expected to exacerbate geopolitical tensions, warns US government body the National Intelligence Council, in a new report.

A military vessel in the Arctic. (Photo by SurangaLK via Shutterstock)

Countries are increasingly competing to control resources required for the energy transition.

An estimated $1trn worth of precious metals and minerals are expected to become more available in the Arctic region as sea ice continues to melt. China, France, India, Japan, South Korea and the UK have all released economic strategies for the Arctic.

Military activity is expected to increase as states seek to protect their investments, exploit new maritime routes and gain strategic advantages over rivals, the National Intelligence Council warns.

Heightened economic and military activities will increase the “risk of miscalculation”, the report says. De-escalating tensions is likely to require adapting existing forums or creating new ones to address bilateral and multilateral security concerns among states.