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China rank 3 behind Australia, Canada to boost output of metals critical for clean energy transition

China ranked third – after Australia and Canada – among 10 markets assessed on their readiness to boost the supply of metals essential to the global clean energy transition and the fight against climate change, according to a study.

China scored 65 out of 100 in an assessment of countries’ preparedness to expand production of key minerals such as lithium, copper and graphite carried out by clean energy and commodity markets research provider BloombergNEF. That compares with Australia’s 92 and Canada’s 73.

The study’s criteria included abundance of reserves, availability of talent and robustness of environmental impact assessment frameworks, each carrying a 25 per cent weighting. Sector strategy and political stability each accounted for 12.5 per cent.

“While the mining sector in China performs less well in terms of its ability to attract talent versus other industries, the country’s score is boosted by the availability of a wide range of mineral reserves,” said the report published on July 5.

China is the dominant producer of rare earths and graphite globally, and was the third-biggest miner of lithium last year, the report noted. It also owns around a third of global rare earths, a sixth of graphite and an eighth of lithium reserves.

Rare earth, found in the magnets of wind turbines, and cobalt, lithium, and graphite which are widely deployed in batteries, are ranked as having the biggest strategic value when it comes to energy transition in most economies.

Although China has the second-highest score, after Australia, for resource endowment, it trails in the areas of talent, sector development strategy and political stability.

Mining workers are paid just 2 per cent more than the average annual salary across all industries, the report noted, citing government statistics. That may not be enough to attract and retain skilled talent.


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