The British Geological Survey (BGS) recently released its supply risk index for critical minerals, which makes the United Kingdom the latest country to zero in on the issue of resource dependency.
The study ranks 52 elements or element groups based on a number of factors that impact supply, including each element’s abundance in the Earth and the distribution of deposits. Also emphasized in the report are so-called “human factors ” – geopolitics, resource nationalism, and events such as strikes and accidents – as most likely causes for supply disruptions.
Not surprisingly, rare earths elements (REE), which we have been discussing frequently on our blog, rank near the top of the BGS supply risk index. Other prominently-featured critical elements include platinum group metals, antimony, niobium and tungsten, due to a restricted supply base and relatively low political stability ratings for major producing countries. Perhaps most strikingly, the report also visualizes China’s current role as leading global producer for 27 of the 52 elements or element groups in a chart on page three.
The BGS study, which is well worth a read, will likely fuel the mineral strategy debate in Britain. One can only hope that here, too, policy makers, industry and consumers too, begin to pay more attention to the issue of resource dependency and possible supply disruptions – an issue we could tackle head-on by focusing on the vast mineral riches we possess but so far fail to develop.