Strategic key minerals are related to the sustainable development of the society and play strategic roles in key industrial fields. This article reviewed the definition and selection of strategic and critical minerals, their supply risk assessment, and early warning research, and supply security system optimization and related policies. The main conclusions are as followed. (1) Strategic key minerals are raw materials that meet the needs of national defense and military systems, and for achieving the stable development of strategic key industries. There is a need to define strategic key minerals dynamically based on national development. (2) The supply risks of strategic key minerals have stronger ambiguity and uncertainty, and the supply risk evaluation models of strategic key minerals face many challenges. (3) Optimizing global resource allocation and improving the global governance system are important directions for optimizing supply security system of strategic key minerals and for policy choices. Future research on the supply security of strategic key minerals could be deepened from multidisciplinary research on the formation mechanism of supply security and the identification of supply risk factors by global supply chain tracking and big data-driven methods, and optimizing the policy system from the perspective of integrating external shock factors and internal industrial factors.
In terms of individual elements, by-product minerals account for more than 60% of critical minerals in the United States and the European Union. Compared with the non-byproduct critical minerals, by-product critical minerals possess special geological and economic properties, which have a unique impact on their resource security. In recent years, as critical minerals have become the focus of the government and scientific research institutions, studies on the resource security of by-product critical minerals have increased gradually. This article presented a systematic analysis of criticality evaluation, supply mechanism, price theory, and international trade pattern of the by-product minerals. It is found that due to the important strategic position of the by-product critical minerals, the degree of companionality has become an important criticality evaluation index of minerals, so the security of supply of by-product critical minerals has been ensured to some extent. The supply of by-product critical minerals depends on the change of supply and demand of their main minerals, which leads to inelasticity of supply and faced with supply risk. At the same time, the geographic distribution of by-product critical minerals is highly concentrated, which causes higher trade risks in global trade. Compared with non-byproduct critical minerals, by-product critical minerals have higher price volatility and their price volatility is affected by that of their main minerals , and there is a risk to stabilize the supply and demand of by-product critical minerals. Finally, in light of the background and trend of future economic development, this study identified the research direction of the resource security of by-product critical minerals in the future.
Security of critical minerals is an important guarantee for national socioeconomic development and national defense system construction. Developing a strategy for critical minerals is a necessary measure for ensuring resource security. Many countries in the world have formulated strategic measures for critical minerals. China has a large demand for related metal minerals and structural contradictions between supply and demand are outstanding, therefore it is particularly urgent to formulate national critical mineral strategies. In light of the policy texts of critical minerals in Australia, Japan, the European Union, and the United States from 2006 to 2019, this study conducted a comparative study from the perspectives of the international background, formulation basis, historical change, and policy policy tool selection of critical mineral strategies,put forward the main national critical mineral strategies evolution rule, driving factors and tool selection basis. The study found that “criticality” indicators in the four countries (regions) all include supply risks, and other indicators such as economic importance and operability were selected according to national conditions; the number of critical minerals related policy texts in the four countries (regions) steadily increased. The policy focus of the United States, Japan, and the European Union continues to be systematic, and the list of critical minerals is constantly updated and improved. The policy tools used are mainly regulatory tools, economic incentive tools play an auxiliary role, and the role of social policy tools is becoming increasingly prominent. On the basis of analyzing the patterns of change, driving factors, and policy tools and strategies of critical minerals in these countries, it is recommended that China, while establishing a catalogue of critical minerals, should improve the mineral reserve system, promote research and development of substitution and recovery technologies, and implement a “resource diplomacy” and other measures to build a reasonable and effective strategy for critical minerals.
The transformation of the global energy structure is the only way to achieve sustainable development, and the development of clean energy technology relies on a variety of critical metal materials. To ensure the development of global clean energy technology and the transformation of the global energy structure, this paper selects 15 critical metals of clean energy technology, establishes a supply risk assessment system from four dimensions of supply reduction, demand increase, geopolitics and social supervision, including 10 assessment indicators. The results show that: (1) the critical metals of clean energy technology are all at medium- risk or above. Among them, the supply risk assessment of indium, gallium and germanium is at a high risk level; 12 metals supply risks of lithium, cobalt, cadmium, selenium, molybdenum, palladium, platinum, copper, aluminum, zinc, iron and titanium are in medium risk level. (2) In the supply reduction risk dimension, six metals such as indium, iron, molybdenum, zinc, germanium, and cadmium belong to medium and high risks, and the risk of indium is the highest; among the risk dimensions of increased demand, the risks of indium, gallium, and germanium are medium to high risks; In the political risk dimension, 9 metals belong to medium and high risks, and cobalt has the highest risk; in the social regulatory risk dimension, 11 metals belong to medium and high risks, and indium has the highest risk. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a normalized risk classification management mechanism for the supply of critical metals and a secondary resource recovery management system as soon as possible, and enhance cooperation with critical metal suppliers to alleviate critical metal constraints for the development of clean energy technology.
In order to investigate the impact of strategic and critical metals trade network characteristics on the upgrading of industrial structures, we quantitatively characterized the topological characteristics of the network based on complex network analysis methods, using the trade data of the seven strategic and critical metals from 1996 to 2017. This study measured the degree of centrality from five dimensions: in-degree centrality, out-degree centrality, closeness centrality, betweenness centrality, and eigenvector centrality. We deciphered the roles and positions of countries in the trade network. Based on these, this study further constructed a panel regression model to examine how the characteristics of strategic and critical metals trade network impact the industrial structure upgrading. The research results show that: (1) The global strategic and critical metals trade network is loose and heterogeneous during 1996-2017 and shows the characteristics of a “small world”. (2) Individually, China, the United States, and Germany were important participants in global strategic and critical metals trade, occupying a central position in the trade network. (3) Further research found that closeness centrality and betweenness centrality showed a significant effect on promoting the upgrading of a country’s industrial structure. This effect was more prominent in low-income countries. But the influence of in-degree centrality, out-degree centrality, and eigenvector centrality were not obvious. China should adopt a more open trade policy and enhance its position in the division of labor in the global value chain to promote the optimization and upgrading of its industrial structure.
In order to examine the pattern and characteristics of international trade of products in each stage of the industrial chain of advantageous mineral resources, and identify China’s competitive advantages of trade and potential problems in the industrial chain, this study used tungsten as example and selected the international trade data of tungsten ore, tungsten concentrate, tungstate, ferroalloy, and tungsten products in the upstream, midstream, and downstream products of the tungsten industrial chain from 2009 to 2018, to construct the international trade networks to analyze the overall structure of international trade in each stage of the global tungsten industrial chain in terms of trade volume, industrial concentration type, and so on. We selected the countries and regions in the list of stable oligopolistic countries/regions as the typical research objects to analyze the oligopolistic index, the control ability of trade channels, the export structure index, among others, and found that few countries hold a large amount of trade in every stage of the tungsten industrial chain, and China has the highest competitiveness for exporting tungstate, and has competitive advantage in the midstream and downstream products. China’s competitive advantage shows a reversed-U shape. Meanwhile, China has the advantage of the diversity of channels and the disadvantage of the control ability of trade channels. Therefore, if China wants to realize the discourse power matching with its own resource endowment and processing capacity, it still needs to improve its competitiveness in terms of refined product processing and intermediary control ability based on the existing oligopoly competitiveness. Finally, we combined the horizontal and vertical comparison of China’s competitive advantage in international trade in all stages to analyze the problems and potential risks, and relevant recommendations were put forward.
Copper is a critical metal of strategic importance. China has long imported two types of copper scrap, namely “category-6 copper scrap” and “category-7 copper scrap”, as materials for producing recycled copper. Based on the statistics of China Customs and the nonferrous metal industry, this study analyzes the resource availability, environmental and economic benefits, and environmental and health risks of copper scrap trade using material flow analysis and life cycle assessment. The results show that from 2000 to 2015, China imported around 66.8 million tonnes of copper scrap, which contained 20 million tonnes of copper and accounted for 56% of domestic output of recycled copper. Compared with copper production from domestic copper ores, producing recycled copper from imported waste and scrap avoided a range of environmental impacts, such as abiotic depletion potential (ADP), global warming potential (GWP), human toxicity potential (HTP), and so on, and saved USD 58 billion of investments in the mining industry. However, using imported “category-7 copper scrap” for copper refining has also contributed to regional ecological degradation, environmental pollution, and health risks. The smelting process of imported low-grade copper scrap that contains large amounts of organic compounds especially, has led to emissions of dioxins and other toxic substances. In addition, the underdeveloped technology, poor spatial layout, and poor management of many industrial parks and small enterprises have resulted in environmental and health hazards. Therefore, the benefits and risks brought by the imported copper scrap should be evaluated dialectically and comprehensively. While the imports of “category-7 copper scrap” such as “waste electric motors, wires, cables, and hardware and electrical appliances” that are used primarily for copper recycling should be prohibited, the imports of “category-6 copper scrap” should continuously be allowed to reduce China’s dependence on primary copper ores and the environmental impact resulting from the mining and smelting of raw ores.
This study examined the evolution process of China’s rare earth policy, analyzed the drivers and mechanism of change, and identified the direction of future policy optimization and adjustment accordingly. Based on the key policies, China’s rare earth policy development can be divided into four stages: (1) encouraging the export of rare earth and standardizing mining procedures (1985-2004); (2) implementing export quantity management and enhancing export pricing power (2005-2010); (3) improving industrial rule and order and adjusting organizational structures (2011-2014); and (4) industrial supply-side structural reform (2015-present). Next, this study used the pressure-state-response (PSR) model to analyze the drivers of policy change, and used the causal feedback diagram in system dynamics to describe the policy change mechanism. The results indicate that the drivers of China’s rare earth policy change mainly include the force of industrial supply-side problems, the constraints of national macro-policy adjustments, and the promotion of the global development trend. Generally speaking, the formulation of China’s rare earth policy to some extent lagged behind developments in the industry, was passive in nature, and lacked clear policy objectives, and its driving mechanism was mainly manifested as a forced mechanism and a restraint mechanism. Finally, this study constructed the PSR model of China’s rare earth policy in the new era, pointing out that under the dual pressures in China and internationally, the rare earth industry faces challenges such as mismatch between supply and demand, insufficient downstream application level, imperfect environmental taxation system, and endangered global competitiveness. In the future, a two-way problem-oriented and goal-oriented mechanism should be formed, and response policies should be optimized and adjusted from four aspects: optimizing resource development strategy, stimulating enterprises’ enthusiasm for research and development, improving the environmental taxation system, and formulating global resource strategic layout and industrial governance based on the characteristics of light and heavy rare earth.
This study examined firms’ entry and exit behavior through export rebate policies, which is illustrated by China’s rare earth market. It analyzed whether the adjustment of export rebate policies promotes the efficiency of resource allocation, and whether the adjustment facilitates low efficiency and low value-added firms quitting the rare earth industry. The empirical study showed that the reduction of export rebate rates has intensified competition among rare earth enterprises. It has promoted low efficiency and low value-added enterprises quitting the rare earth market, raised the threshold of entry level, and limited the entry of rare earth enterprises. The major policy recommendations are as follows: First, export structure and export rebate policies should be further reformed in China’s rare earth industry. Second, rare earth enterprises should be encouraged to improve their technology and productivity. Third, the government should enhance the management and control of China’s rare earth market, protect high quality rare earth products, and promote transformation of the market.
Research on the effect of government financial support on the development of the rare earth industry in China is of great value for improving the theories of policy study of the rare earth industry, optimizing the policy system of government financial support, and realizing the sustainable development of the industry. Taking listed rare earth companies in China as examples, this study constructed an efficiency evaluation model of government financial support based on slacks-based measure data envelopment analysis (SBM-DEA) and an influencing factor model based on panel feasible generalized least squares (FGLS) estimation method, calculated and analyzed the efficiency and influencing factors of government financial support for China’s rare earth industry from 2010 to 2019, and distinguished between the front-end and the back-end of the rare earth industrial chain to compare and analyze the difference of government financial support effects. The results show that: The annual average value of government financial support efficiency of China’s rare earth industry is 1.313. Government financial support has an “incentive effect” on 65% of the listed rare earth companies, which has achieved the overall goal of government financial support policy. But it still has an “exclusion effect” on 35% of the listed rare earth companies. The annual average values of government financial support efficiency of the front-end and the back-end of the rare earth industrial chain are 1.145 and 1.377, respectively, which means that the “incentive effect” of government financial support on the back-end of the inductrial chain is significantly greater than that on the front-end. Government financial support is conducive to promoting the extension of the rare earth industrial chain to the back end. With the passage of time, the government financial support efficiency of the rare earth industry as a whole shows a downward trend, and the “incentive effect” gradually turns into the “exclusion effect”. The introduction of special policies can improve the efficiency of government financial support in the short term, but the long-term effect is limited. There is an inverted U-shaped relationship between government financial support intensity and government financial support efficiency of the rare earth industry, and at the enterprise scale, a significant positive effect on the government financial support efficiency of the rare earth industry can be observed. This study may deepen the understanding of the effect of government financial support on the development of China’s rare earth industry and provide a reference for the formulation of differentiated government financial support policies for China’s rare earth industry.
In recent years, with the application of resources gradually extended to high-tech industry and strategic emerging industry, the technological innovation of downstream material end has become the strategic focus of reconstructing the advantages of China’s resource industry. Based on the panel data of China’s advanced material enterprises from 2008 to 2017, this study used the panel vector autoregressions (PVAR) model to comprehensively explore the dynamic incentive effects of venture capital and government subsidies on technological innovation of China’s advanced material enterprises, and comparatively analyzed the differences in incentive effects between the two tools from the perspective of technology life cycle. The results show that although both venture capital and government subsidies can improve the technological innovation of advanced material enterprises, the incentive effect of venture capital is short term, while the long-term incentive effect of government subsidies is obvious. For enterprises in the introduction period, the incentive effect of venture capital on their technological innovation is small, and government subsidies can make up for the lack of market capital allocation. For enterprises in the growth period, the incentive effect of venture capital on their technological innovation is stronger than that of government subsidies in the long run. For enterprises in the mature period, the incentive effect of government subsidies is limited, and venture capital can play a leading role in promoting the technological innovation of such enterprises. Therefore, in order to promote the technological innovation of advanced material enterprises, the government should introduce a classified subsidy mechanism, focusing on enterprises in the introduction period, and guiding venture capital investment in enterprises in the growth and mature periods.
Based on the perspective of industrial security, this study used monthly data from August 2006 to December 2018 to incorporate factors that directly or indirectly affect the price fluctuations of strategic metals into a unified framework of analysis, and constructed a time varying parameter factor augmented vector autoregressive (TVP-FAVAR) model to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the dynamic impacts of supply shocks, economic demand shocks, strategic metal-specific demand shocks, and financial speculative shocks on the strategic metal industry’s output. The results show that the impacts of strategic metal price shocks on the strategic metal industry are time-varying. At different temporal scales and at different points in time, the effects are heterogeneous. Among the four types of shocks, supply shocks affect most in the output of strategic metal ore mining and dressing industry. The output of the strategic metal smelting and rolling processing industry is mainly affected by economic demand shocks; fluctuations in the price of strategic metals have a significant inhibitory effect on China’s strategic metal industry output, especially that of the strategic metal ore mining and dressing industry, which has severely affected the security of the strategic metal industry, and is particularly significant in the context of the current Sino-US trade war.
The emerging technologies, materials, and industries have a profound and increasing impact on the amount and structure of demand of critical metals. Understanding how technological progress affects the demand for critical metals and minerals is of certain practical significance for the high-quality economic transformation, the low-carbon energy transformation, and the critical minerals security in China. This paper conducted a systematic review of the literature on the relationship between technological progress and critical metal demand, and finds that: As resource security has become an important national demand issue, technological progress and critical metal demand prediction have gradually become a hot spot. However, there are few quantitative studies and lack of systematization in existing literature. And the accuracy of demand forecasting results needs to be further improved due to difficulties in measuring technological progress and data acquisition. In this paper, three micro-influencing mechanisms of technological progress on the demand for critical metals were applied: technological progress—economic growth, industrial structure and substitution and recycle—metal minerals, providing an overall analytical framework for subsequent studies. The focus of follow-up research in this field was proposed, that is, focusing on the coupling problem of low-carbon technology—critical metals and strategic emerging industries—critical metals, solving the measurement problem of technological progress in theoretical and econometric model, and promoting the construction of analytical frameworks for critical metal demand forecasting as technological revolution continues in the new era.
China is the largest importing and consuming country of iron ore in the world. However, it has faced the problem of lack of pricing power for a long time. Obtaining market pricing power through the reform of pricing mechanism is a key scientific issue for ensuring the security of China’s resource supply. Using the regression discontinuity model and monthly data from July 2005 to March 2019, this study conducted an empirical analysis from the perspective of pricing mechanism transition, to explore the causal relationship between the reform of short-term pricing mechanism and the fluctuation of import price of iron ore in China. The results reveal that the introduction of short-term pricing mechanism is closely related to the fluctuation of domestic imported iron ore price and it can effectively restrain the dramatic rise of the price in the short term, while the reform of short-term pricing mechanism has no convincing negative relationship with the fluctuation of international iron ore price. Meanwhile, endogenous factors had slight influence on iron ore import price during the process of pricing mechanism reform. Based on these conclusions, this article suggests that the reform of short-term pricing mechanism should be strengthened continuously. In order to increase the pricing power in the negotiation with iron ore suppliers, herd effect should play a role in the reform of China’s short-term iron ore pricing mechanism. China should flexibly adjust the pricing mechanism according to changes in the international market in order to enhance the pricing power on the market.
Oil and gas resources still occupy a dominant position in global energy consumption. China is the world’s largest energy consumption and oil importing country. Security of oil and gas resources supply is a major strategy related to national security. Based on the analysis of China’s overseas oil and gas dependence, this study summarized the main geographical risks of China’s oil and gas supply security and puts forward the countermeasures. The results show that: China’s dependence on overseas oil and natural gas has exceeded 70% and 40% respectively, and the concentration of importing countries is very high, which makes the country vulnerable to the interference of geopolitical risks. Potential geopolitical risks that China’s overseas oil and gas supply faces include the unstable geopolitical situation of importing countries, the possibility that the United States may use energy as a geopolitical tool and strategy, the concentration of new industrialized countries that have strong oil and gas demand. There are many strategic nodes in the oil and gas transportation channels that are easy to be interfered by the power of big countries. Strategic reserves of oil and gas are insufficient to deal with the risk of sudden war and embargo. To ensure China’s oil and gas security, it is necessary to adopt differentiated oil and gas cooperation strategies in view of the unstable situations in different regions.
Research on the evolution of the global pattern of natural gas flow nodes and the resource effect have important guiding significance for the scientific formulation of China’s natural gas development strategy. This study used the standard deviation ellipse (SDE) method to analyze the spatial pattern characteristics of export and import nodes, and then reveal the resource effect of pattern change. The following conclusions are drawn from the research: (1) The supply and demand nodes of natural gas in the world are moving eastward. The development of pipeline natural gas (PNG) export nodes in the east-west direction is gradually enhanced, and the nodes distribution gravity center shows a trend of eastward movement; the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export nodes distribution in the east-west and north-south directions shows a trend of dispersion, and the gravity center shows a significant northwest-southeast movement. (2) The PNG import nodes show a significant eastward movement, and the east-west direction of import nodes distribution has been continuously strengthened; the LNG import nodes have moved eastward as a whole and are centralized. (3) The high flow density areas of natural gas in the world are mainly concentrated in the Eurasian continent and its coastal countries, and the flow network shows the characteristics of key node control. The PNG mainly flows in the east-west direction, and the LNG flow direction is more complex. (4) With the continuous change of the spatial pattern of global natural gas flow nodes, a series of changes will take place in natural gas competition, communication relationships, and resource governance systems. China should speed up the shale gas industry revolution, continue to promote the diversification of overseas natural gas supply, contribute to the planning of international natural gas channels, strengthen the construction of Asia’s natural gas trade hubs and financial centers, and enhance China’s position in global natural gas governance.