China, the United States, and competition for resources that enable emerging technologies

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
By: , and 

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Abstract

Historically, resource conflicts have often centered on fuel minerals (particularly oil). Future resource conflicts may, however, focus more on competition for nonfuel minerals that enable emerging technologies. Whether it is rhenium in jet engines, indium in flat panel displays, or gallium in smart phones, obscure elements empower smarter, smaller, and faster technologies, and nations seek stable supplies of these and other nonfuel minerals for their industries. No nation has all of the resources it needs domestically. International trade may lead to international competition for these resources if supplies are deemed at risk or insufficient to satisfy growing demand, especially for minerals used in technologies important to economic development and national security. Here, we compare the net import reliance of China and the United States to inform mineral resource competition and foreign supply risk. Our analysis indicates that China relies on imports for over half of its consumption for 19 of 42 nonfuel minerals, compared with 24 for the United States—11 of which are common to both. It is for these 11 nonfuel minerals that competition between the United States and China may become the most contentious, especially for those with highly concentrated production that prove irreplaceable in pivotal emerging technologies.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title China, the United States, and competition for resources that enable emerging technologies
Series title Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
DOI 10.1073/pnas.1717152115
Volume 115
Issue 16
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Contributing office(s) National Minerals Information Center
Description 5 p.
First page 4111
Last page 4115