While the fate of even first steps towards implementing a strategic minerals policy in the U.S. remains questionable, China is expanding its mineral resource footprint virtually all over the globe.
According to recent media reports, Chinese companies have made forays into Sri Lanka looking for copper, zinc and aluminium suppliers. While this search was unsuccessful, Sri Lanka, as a nation with “ports and airports with quick connections to the Indian subcontinent and other areas” is still relevant as a logistics base for China in its quest for resources.
South America is also seeing increased Chinese resource-seeking activity with China’s state-owned Minmetals having submitted a first-round offer for the Las Bambas copper mine in Peru, a US $5.9 billion operation run by Glencore-Xstrata.
Meanwhile, China’s aggressive pursuit of its minerals agenda in West Africa, where the People’s Republic has seized many mineral resource acquisition opportunities, has prompted India, which is also looking to secure access to critical minerals outside its own borders, to shift focus towards East Africa.
With the global race for resources in full swing, and no signs of China’s appetite for metals and minerals abating, placing an emphasis on formulating a critical minerals strategy for the U.S. should be a key priority for policy makers. With vast mineral riches beneath our own soil we not only have an opportunity to provide our domestic manufacturers, who find themselves exposed to supply vulnerabilities, stable access to (not all, but many) critical metals and minerals – we have an obligation to do so.