Raw materials | Chinese companies dominate the world

Let's transform to a Circular Economy becoming less independent of Chinese industries

Let’s transform to a Circular Economy becoming less independent of Chinese industries

Chinese companies dominate the supply chain on raw materials.

For instance, the Chines control the cobalt supply chain that begins at mines in Congo. But not only cobalt is getting scarce.

Western industries as well as the economy are reliant on international markets to provide access to many important raw materials since they are produced and supplied by third countries. In most cases Western Countries are depending on imports from non-western countries.

Raw Materials spread over the world

China is the major supplier of critical raw materials, accounting for 70% of their global supply and 62% of their supply to the EU (e.g. rare earth elements, magnesium, antimony, natural graphite, etc.). Brazil (niobium), USA (beryllium and helium), Russia (palladium) and South Africa (iridium, platinum, rhodium and ruthenium) are also important producers of critical raw materials. The risks associated with the concentration of production are in many cases compounded by low substitution and low recycling rates.

global suppliers of raw materials

global suppliers of raw materials

There is a world-wide race to lock up the supply chain for cobalt, which will likely be in even greater demand as electric-car production rises. So far, China is way ahead. Comparison: Chinese imports of cobalt from Congo totaled $1.2 billion in the first nine months of 2017, to $3.2 million by India, the second-largest importer and its all clear
Chinese firms are keenly aware of Congo’s importance to raw materials, trying to control the whole ecosystem … From cobalt mining to battery production.

Demand is growing

Demand is growing even faster and is expected to reach more than 200,000 tons by 2025, according to researcher Wood Mackenzie. Electric cars are a big reason why. About 1,300 metric tons of cobalt were used in electric vehicles in 2014, Morgan Stanley estimates. The total is expected to rise to 11,320 tons this year and 62,940 tons by 2025.

Such expectations have caused cobalt prices to more than double in the past year in London trading. Cobalt prices are up more than 230% since the end of 2015, according to Thomson Reuters.


Supporting information



The circular, green, future in 2050

Roadmap to a Circular Economy in Europe

Ellen MacArthur: We need to switch to the circular economy

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