Critical minerals and countries' mining competitiveness: An estimate through economic complexity techniques

Jorge Valverde, Mercedes Menéndez De Medina & Carlo Pietrobelli


Minerals' criticality and countries' mining competitiveness are two dimensions that have gained relevance in the economic and policy agenda due to the key role of minerals in the energy transition. To a certain extent, these product-country dimensions can be seen as two faces of the same coin, which intertwine and simultaneously co-determine each other. Therefore, economic complexity techniques appear as a useful methodology to simultaneously estimate both dimensions.

This paper employs economic complexity techniques to build an unsupervised Fitness-Criticality algorithm, that allows simultaneously estimating countries' mining competitiveness (Fitness Mining Index) and minerals' criticality (Criticality Minerals Index). Our indexes are efficient in terms of the set of information employed, and do not rely on subjective perspectives and assessments. The results of the estimates suggest that South Africa, Russia, the United States, Norway, Canada, Australia and Chile are the most competitive countries. Moreover, the Platinum Group Metals, Lithium, Silicon and Rare Earths appear as the most critical minerals. These results are consistent with other methodologies employed by different organizations that separately estimate both dimensions and derive countries’ and minerals’ rankings.

JEL Classification: Q30, Q37

Keywords: Mining Competitiveness, Economic Complexity, Critical minerals, Energy transition

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