Critical thinking about critical minerals : assessing risks related to resource security
Critical thinking about critical minerals : assessing risks related to resource security / Bram Buijs and Henrike Sievers. The Hague : Clingendael International Energy Programme, November 2011, 19 p. (briefing paper)
This briefing paper has been based upon research undertaken in the context of the EU FP7 POLINARES project (www.polinares.eu).
As a consequence of the tight conditions overshadowing today’s resource markets, concerns over access to raw materials have been rising again in recent years. This paper places the debate on resource security in an historical context by pointing out the parallels between current concerns and earlier periods. Furthermore, it discusses a number of recent and historical criticality studies that have been used in analysing potential problems relating to the access to raw materials and the identification of ‘critical minerals’. It argues that these studies have serious limitations regarding their use in assessing major future risks. Although these (methodological) limitations are usually acknowledged in the studies, their results – prominently a list of critical raw materials – are often misinterpreted and misrepresented, opening the door to overreaction. (© authors)