Raw Material Imports: South Korea Wants to Diversify by 2030

by | 13. Dec 2023 - 11:10 | Politics

Country concentration in imports of important materials such as rare earths and graphite to be reduced.

South Korea wants to diversify its imports of 185 important materials for industry, including raw materials such as rare earths and graphite. This was announced by the country’s Ministry of Industry on Wednesday, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap. Specifically, dependencies on a limited number of countries are to be reduced to less than 50 percent by 2030; according to the ministry, they are currently around 70 percent. For example, South Korea covers 94.4 percent of its demand for natural graphite through imports from China. The country, poor in natural resources, is also heavily dependent on the People’s Republic for many other materials such as battery metals, and this dependency is even growing (we reported).

In order to achieve the recently announced goal, local production of key materials is to be supported. There are also plans to offer financial relief for raw material extraction projects abroad and to give South Korean companies incentives to relocate their production facilities to their home country.

South Korea also wants to expand its stocks of important minerals. As we reported, the country was still well behind its plans in the summer: the domestic reserves of 35 critical raw materials are supposed to last for 100 days, but in practice it was only a few days in some cases.

To strengthen its raw material autonomy, South Korea has already initiated several agreements with mineral-rich countries such as Australia and Indonesia this year. Just a few days ago, more intensive cooperation was announced with Vietnam, which is estimated to have the world’s second-largest deposits of rare earths after China and wants to significantly increase its production of these critical raw materials. The high-tech country of South Korea, on the other hand, claims to have advanced technologies for mining and refining these minerals.

Photo: iSTock/Kinsei-TGS

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