Consumer Concerns

  • David Humphreys
Chapter

Abstract

Automobiles manufactured at the start of the twentieth century were composed of about five materials: wood, rubber, steel, glass, and brass. Today, a typical automobile may contain up to 39 different nonfuel minerals in various components, in addition to rubber, plastics, and other organically based materials. … In the 1980s, computer chips were made with a palette of twelve minerals or their elemental components. A decade later, 16 elements were employed. Today, as many as 60 different minerals (or their constituent elements) may be used in fabricating the high-speed, high-capacity integrated circuits that are crucial to this technology.1

Modern economies are highly dependent on regular supplies of a wide range of mineral products. The rapid growth in China’s demand for minerals and the escalation of mineral prices to which this gave rise, while it may have been a boon to mining countries and companies, was a source of growing concern among the traditional mineral-consuming regions, the United States, Western Europe and Japan. These concerns were aggravated by growing evidence of resource nationalism and the increased role of the state in mineral-producing countries.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    NRC (2008) Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the US Economy: A Summary, Report of the Committee on Critical Mineral Impacts on the US Economy, Committee on Earth Sciences, National Research Council (The National Academies Press, Washington DC).Google Scholar
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    D. Humphreys (1995) ‘Whatever Happened to Security of Supply? Minerals Policy in the Post-Cold War World’, Resources Policy, 21, 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    European Commission (2008) The Raw Materials Initiative, COM(2008) 699 final, available at http://eur-lex.europa.eu Google Scholar
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    European Commission (2010) Critical Raw Materials for the EU, Report of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Defining Critical Raw Materials, June 2010, available at http://ec.europa.eu Google Scholar
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    European Commission (2014) Report on Critical Raw Materials for the EU, Report of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Defining Critical Raw Materials, May 2014, available at http://ec.europa.eu Google Scholar
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    US Geological Survey (2014) Mineral Commodity Summaries.Google Scholar
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    DOE (2010) Critical Materials Strategy, US Department of Energy, December 2010.Google Scholar
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    Office of the US Trade Representative, WTO Case Challenging China’s Export Restrictions on Raw Material Input, 28 October 2009.Google Scholar
  9. 24.
    These observation are drawn largely from WTO (2011) China – Measures Related to the Exportation of Various Raw Materials, Report of the Panel, (WT/DS394/R, WT/DS395/R, WT/DS398/R) 5 July 2011, available at www.wto.org Google Scholar
  10. 26.
    WTO (2014) China – Measures Related of Rare Earths, Tungsten and Molybdenum, Report of the Panel (WT/DS431/R, WT/DS432/R, WT/DS433/R) 26 March 2014, available at www.wto.org Google Scholar

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© David Humphreys 2015

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  • David Humphreys

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