Global concerns are growing over the availability of secure and adequate supplies of the minerals and metals needed by society. Consumption of most raw materials has increased steadily since World War II, and demand is expected to grow in response to the burgeoning global population, economic growth (especially in developing countries) and the requirements of new and/ or environmental technologies, such as renewable energy and electric vehicles. Of particular concern are ‘critical’ raw materials, so called because of their growing economic importance and high risk of supply shortage. The British Geological Survey publishes a yearly risk list which gives a quick indication of the relative risk to the supply of the chemical elements or element groups which we need to maintain our economy and lifestyle. The position of an element on this list is determined by a number of factors which might affect availability. These include the location of current production and reserves, and the political stability of those locations, the recycling rate and substitutability of these elements.
As demand for metals and minerals increases, driven by relentless growth in the emerging economies in Asia and South America, competition for resources is growing. Human factors such as geopolitics, resource nationalism, along with events such as strikes and accidents are the most likely to disrupt supply.
With the exception of substitutability, the list focuses on risks to supply and does not include any assessment of factors that influence demand, such as criticality of an element to a particular technology.
Click here to download the most recent risk list published by the British Geological Survey.
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Source: BGS World Mineral Statistics | Natural Environment Research Council