China Is Winning the Minerals War – by Jon Emont (Wall Street Journal/ – May 2024)

SINGAPORE—For the past few years, the West has been trying to break China’s grip on minerals that are critical for defense and green technologies. Despite their efforts, Chinese companies are becoming more dominant, not less. They are expanding operations, supercharging supply and causing prices to drop. Their challengers can’t compete.

“China is not just standing still waiting for us to catch up,” said Morgan Bazilian, director of the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines. “They are making investments on top of their already massive investments in all aspects of the critical-minerals supply chain.”

Take nickel, which is needed for electric-vehicle batteries. Chinese processing plants that dot the Indonesian archipelago are pumping out vast quantities of the mineral from new and expanding facilities, jolting the market.

Meanwhile, Switzerland-based mining giant Glencore is suspending operations at its nickel plant in New Caledonia, a French territory, concluding it can’t survive despite offers of financial help from Paris.

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