Criticality & China: A Matter of Perspective


In the latest thinkpiece from Hallgarten & Company, editor Christopher Ecclestone analyzes the issue of critical metal and mineral supply, drawing attention to the complexities faced by both China and the West. The report, titled “Criticality & China: A Matter of Perspective,” points out that China, commonly perceived as dominating the supply of various critical metals, faces significant challenges in maintaining this control. The document highlights how critical metals such as Antimony, Heavy Rare Earths, and Cesium, although seen as China-dominated, are also problematic for China to procure and maintain due to long supply lines and geopolitical instabilities.

Ecclestone argues that the West, particularly the U.S., has overlooked Chinese encroachments in the global metals market due to an inward-looking approach. “The US allowed its total dominance of Cesium to transfer to total China dominance at the stroke of a pen,” he states, underscoring the strategic missteps in managing critical metal supplies. Furthermore, he discusses the geopolitical risks associated with metal supply chains, noting that a change in government in supplier countries like the DRC, Zambia, and Burma can quickly turn supply certainty into doubt.

The report criticizes the current state of criticality rankings, which Ecclestone claims are corrupted by “carpetbagging promoters” who influence government listings to favor their interests, thereby devaluing the concept of criticality. He stresses the need for more rigorous methodologies in evaluating critical metal lists to prevent them from becoming as valueless as “Monopoly money.”

Ecclestone’s analysis also contemplates a hypothetical Chinese criticality list, considering the metals and minerals China truly needs, especially in potential conflict scenarios. He points out the strategic disadvantage China faces due to its dependence on foreign sources for essential metals required in wartime, drawing parallels with historical precedents where resource scarcity impacted military campaigns.

Overall, the thinkpiece serves as a wake-up call to the West to reevaluate its approach to critical metals and the broader implications of geopolitical dynamics on global supply chains. To read the full report, click here

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