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Rare earths and beyond: China is shaping India’s mineral policy

In today’s globalized world, it doesn’t take a seat at the decision-making table for one nation to influence another’s domestic policies – a near-monopoly on critical mineral resources will do.  A case in point is India, which, after a seven-year hiatus, is expanding its indigenous Rare Earth Element (REE) production over growing concerns that China may be taking advantage of its rare earths dominance.

Not only is an Indian government panel preparing a strategy paper emphasizing the need for domestic exploration of REE’s (according to a Mineweb.com story), but the country is also reportedly funding a rare earths plant to the tune of 1.4 billion rupees ($32 million USD).

Acknowledging that resource dependency issues stretch beyond rare earths, the Indian public policy debate is zeroing in on the broader critical minerals supply issues.  In light of “the proliferation of trade-distorting measures by emerging economies such as China,” which according to one Indian expert also applies to copper, aluminum, nickel, molybdenum, manganese, magnesium, tungsten, and indium; analysts lament the curtailment of domestic production and call for policy measures to secure supply of these strategic minerals.

As U.S. lawmakers return to Capitol Hill following the August District Work Period, they, too, would be well advised to shift their attention to the global race for resources. That means prioritizing policy measures to alleviate our unnecessary dependence on foreign critical minerals, and turning our focus toward the mineral riches beneath our own soil.