Critical Materials Report From China and Comment: Part 1 In A Series

A Look at China’s Perspective For Key Minerals Such As  Cobalt, Rare Earth and Antimony

Editor’s Note: The information contained in this report was published in China during the end of August 2018.  The translation to English is a bit crude and we apologize for this.  However, the content of the report provides some insight about how the country of China is approaching the critical materials matter. In addition, this story provides some revealing facts about production and consumption of “strategic” elements, including rare earths.  Despite trade differences the USA may have with China, there would appear to be a strong benefit for better coordination among the superpowers for production and distribution of critical materials.  In the eyes of the Editor, it would appear that China holds all of the cards for near-term rare earth element mining and production.  The USA is not alone in facing this concentration risk for critical material supply.  Europe, other parts of Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa face the same supply risks.  Notwithstanding national security and defense issues, there is merit to examination about “cooperation” between the USA, China and other parts of the world could lead to development of a deeper and broader critical marketplace.  According to sources, the rare earth industry could grow 10X from the present volume if supply concentration issues could be diversified. Companies like Siemens, the largest purchaser of rare earths in Europe, cannot develop a long-term business plan that has 100% reliance on China for rare earth element supply.  The consequence of a stagnant and concentrated global rare earth element market is stagnancy.  Despite the robust industrial marketplace in the world, a global industrial slowdown is inevitable in absence of a solution.  National security, trade issues and industrialization might benefit from a wholistic re-examination by a group of leaders from China and other parts of  the world.  The Editor would be grateful for feedback.  Please write to mike@globalreesventure.com.

 Some scholars have calculated that computer chips in the 1980s contained only 12 chemical elements, while 21st century high-speed large-capacity integrated circuits contained 61 chemical elements. Of the 49 newly added elements, 15 rare minerals are included.

China Science and Technology Network

Liang Huaying, a researcher at the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that China’s cobalt consumption accounts for about half of the world’s total, but cobalt resources are only 1.1% of the world’s total, and more than 95% rely on imports.

Emerging key minerals, also known as emerging strategic minerals, are important raw materials for supporting the development of strategic emerging industries. At the Xiangshan Science Conference held from August 28th to 29th, experts called for China to urgently improve the research, development, utilization and overall planning of the enrichment mechanism of emerging key mineral resources.

In strategic emerging industries, there are everywhere new emerging key minerals. Yang Danhui, a researcher at the Institute of Industrial Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that in the new energy automobile industry, lithium is an important raw material for lithium ion power battery cathode materials and organic electrolytes. In the high-end equipment manufacturing industry, helium and neon are important raw materials for satellite navigation products.

Some scholars have calculated that computer chips in the 1980s contained only 12 chemical elements, while 21st century high-speed large-capacity integrated circuits contained 61 chemical elements. Of the 49 newly added elements, 15 rare minerals are included.

According to Qin Kezhang, according to China’s social development and the characteristics of supply and demand of mineral resources, China’s emerging key minerals can be divided into three categories: one is resource shortage minerals, such as cobalt, antimony, platinum group elements; the second is technology-constrained minerals such as ?, titanium, gallium, etc.; the third is the ability to regulate the dominant minerals in the international market, such as rare earths, indium, antimony, antimony and so on.
Experts attending the meeting believe that the current emerging key minerals in China are unclear, and there are still many shortcomings in development and utilization and overall planning.
For example, helium is one of the rarest metals on the planet and is often used on high-performance aircraft engine turbines, so it is known as a metal that changes the aviation industry, but the current reserves in China are still unclear. For example, China’s lithium resources are abundant, but due to the lag in development, a large amount of lithium resources still rely on imports.

“Emerging key minerals not only have important economics, but also have extremely uneven distribution and high supply risks,” said Qin Kezhang, a researcher at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Taking cobalt as an example, Liang Huaying, a researcher at the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that China’s cobalt consumption accounts for about half of the world’s total, but cobalt resources are only 1.1% of the world’s total, and more than 95% rely on imports. Due to its important strategic significance, developed economies such as the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom attach great importance to emerging key minerals.

“In December last year, US President Trump issued US Executive Order No. 13317, a federal strategy to ensure the safe and reliable supply of key minerals.” Qin Kezhang said that in May this year, the US Department of the Interior announced 35 key minerals lists.
According to Qin Kezhang, according to China’s social development and the characteristics of supply and demand of mineral resources, China’s emerging key minerals can be divided into three categories: one is resource shortage minerals, such as cobalt, antimony, platinum group elements; the second is technology-constrained minerals such as ?, titanium, gallium, etc.; the third is the ability to regulate the dominant minerals in the international market, such as rare earths, indium, antimony, antimony and so on.

“On the one hand, China’s lack of key mineral resources is unclear and the potential is unknown. On the other hand, although rare earths and rare elements have absolute advantages, they have not yet received due attention, and the level of development and utilization technology is not high.” Conference sponsor, Chinese Academy of Sciences Geology Wu Fuyuan, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics, believes that research should be conducted on the formation and regularization of emerging key minerals, the development of targeted analysis and exploration techniques, the search for more emerging key mineral resources, the increase of strategic reserves, and the expansion of key mineral application technologies. As a major national task.

Author: Liu Yuanyuan

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