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Title: The new "rare metal age" : new challenges and implications of critical raw materials supply security in the 21st century
Authors: Umbach, Frank
Keywords: Social sciences::Political science
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Umbach, F. (2020). The new "rare metal age" : new challenges and implications of critical raw materials supply security in the 21st century. (RSIS Working Paper, No. 329). Singapore: Nanyang Technological University.
Series/Report no.: RSIS Working Papers, 329-20
Abstract: When Beijing threatened to restrict China’s export of rare earths (widely used in numerous important civilian and military technologies) to the United States at the end of May 2019, the world was reminded of China’s rare earths export disruption in the autumn of 2010 amid a maritime territorial conflict between China and Japan. In the past few years, the worldwide attention cast on the future supply security of rare earths and other critical raw materials has increased in the United States, the European Union, Japan and other countries owing to the global expansion of “green technologies” (including renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and batteries, and smart grids) and digitalisation as well as equipment and devices embedded with artificial intelligence. In this paper, the term “critical raw materials” (CRMs) refers to raw materials critical to industries that are also import-dependent on them, and to new technologies which often have no viable substitutes and whose supply, besides being constrained by limited recycling rates and options, is also dominated by one or a few suppliers. CRMs include rare earth elements (REEs), which comprise 17 different elements (see Figure 4). The global race for the most advanced technologies dependent on CRMs has intensified the competition for access to as well as strategic control of REEs, lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel and other CRMs. This working paper analyses the global supply and demand balance of three CRMs (REEs, lithium and cobalt, the latter two being major raw materials for batteries) in the foreseeable future and whether ASEAN countries can play a role as producers and suppliers of CRMs. It also examines potential counterstrategies for mitigating and reducing the global demand for CRMs, such as substitution, reduced use of CRMs, and recycling and re-use.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:RSIS Working Papers

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