As reports about China’s restrictive mineral export policies continue to dominate the resource news cycles, don’t expect Beijing to slow down its aggressive pursuit of access to critical metals and minerals around the world.
According to China Daily’s European edition, senior Chinese industry officials have announced that Chinese miners will accelerate the exploration of overseas sources of nonferrous metals in light of surging domestic demand. Domestic proven reserves of nonferrous minerals are vast, but far from sufficient to meet demand. As one industry representative points out:
“Chinese companies have accelerated their exploration of overseas nonferrous mining resources in recent years, making the country an important driver of the global nonferrous metals industry’s development.”
As of late last year, China already had overseas mining rights to 80 million metric tons of copper, 30 million tons of lead and zinc, and 6 million tons of nickel, but these numbers will likely increase as Beijing pursues further resource development agreements all over the globe, most recently notably in the Arctic and Africa.
China not only has a plan when it comes to securing its access to critical mineral resources, it is already actively implementing its strategy. Meanwhile, in our own attempts to formulate a coherent mineral resource strategy, the U.S. government can’t even agree on a definition of what constitutes a critical mineral – a fact that does not bode well both from a geopolitical or competitiveness standpoint.