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.
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
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