By Maureen Aylward
With global use of rare earth elements growing, we asked our Zintro African Business experts to provide their opinions on how access to these raw materials can diversify.
Michael Keating, a renowned international risk management consultant and specialist in media, development and business in Africa, says that the rare earth market needs to diversify because of China’s dominance and the country’s ability to manipulate world supply through its export practices. “While it is unlikely that China will cut off supply to existing trading partners, there is certainly opportunity for price-fixing and favoritism,” says Keating. “China will likely try to corner the market in other mining zones, but the West can make a difference by cutting deals and managing projects that are scaled correctly and take account of China’s weaknesses in how it manages developing world investments.”
Keating says the mining of rare earth elements needs to expand into friendly or neutral zones, such as Africa and Central Asia, and safe sites in Canada and Australia. “African mining, which I am most familiar with, has enormous upside potential for firms that are savvy and know how to manage risks,” says Keating.
Michael Rada, a professional with expertise in raw materials management, says the main issue in rare earth elements is the limitation of their presence and knowledge of where these elements exist in other areas of the world. “There needs to be a diversification approach,” says Rada, “so that there is enough choice for the most efficient supply to local and international clients.” Rada would like to see more attention paid to avoiding the use of and reducing dependence on rare earth elements. “There should be more time and money invested in finding alternative solutions before the rare earth elements are exploited,” he says. “There should be cooperative action and synergy to get the right solution before these materials are depleted.”
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