Critical raw material strategies in different world regions

Eva Bartekova & René Kemp


The rising imbalance between increased demand for minerals and their tighter supply has resulted in growing concerns about their criticality. This has in turn stimulated both resource-rich and resource-poor countries to take active role in implementing mineral policy strategies. This paper explains why different world regions responded differently to the global problem of securing stable supply of critical minerals, in particular of rare earths. The paper first provides an in-depth overview of development trajectories of critical mineral strategies through a historical case study analysis of major stakeholder regions - China, the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia. Next, it offers answers as to why they have responded the way they did: how national interest considerations, resource endowment circumstances, countries’ historical experience in tackling supply risk and their respective policy styles influenced the development of critical mineral policy choices within a comparative political economy framework. The overall findings show distinctive differences in policy strategies towards critical materials. Whereas Europe opts for a policy dialogue with resource-rich countries, Japan and the United States have a more hands-on approach in research and development initiatives. Australia and China instead, strive to promote domestic mining activities and to protect their resources through resource nationalist policies.

JEL Classification: L72, L78, O57, Q34, Q38

Keywords: raw material criticality, rare earths, national policy styles, comparative political economy