Arctic Mining: Asian Interests and Opportunities

In Leiv Lunde, Yang Jian and Iselin Stensdal (eds), Asian Countries and the Arctic Future. Singapore, World Scientific Publishing, 2016, pp. 155-167.

Mining is today a global industry, in terms of locations, trade, and output value. In 2012 mining products, including iron and steel was the fifth largest valued merchandize traded, making up 7% of the world's trade. The unevenness of mineral endowments from country to country in combination of different mineral-consumption patterns and scarcity of minerals vital to modern life, makes mining and mineral-trade flows worth keeping an eye on. The three Asian countries China, Japan, and South Korea are among the world's largest economies, and also among the largest mineral consumers. More than 30 different minerals are extracted in the Arctic region, such as copper, gold, nickel, and zinc, which all are imported to the Asian countries in substantial amounts. Ostensibly there should be many areas with overlap between the two areas' supply and demand. As of 2014 however, the Arctic region makes up a minuscule part of the Asian countries' outward foreign direct investments (FDI) in mineral industries. Where does Asian demand overlap with Arctic production of minerals? Are there Asian interests for Arctic mining? Given the small share Arctic mineral extracting projects make-up of the Asian countries' FDIs, which factors may influence future opportunities? By minerals I refer to mineral raw materials, excluding oil and gas, restricting this survey to extraction and not further processing.



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