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South Korea reduces import dependence and increases recycling rates for strategic minerals by 2030

IRTC Board Member Min-Ha Lee and IRTC Coordinator Alessandra Hool report on the new Korean strategies for securing critical raw materials.

While Europe is waiting on the release of the Critical Raw Materials Act to be announced in March, the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) has communicated new national strategies for securing strategic minerals for Korea. Strategic minerals are cobalt, graphite, lithium, nickel, manganese, and rare earths: neodymium, dysprosium, and terbium for permanent magnets, and cerium and lanthanum for semiconductors.

The necessity for securing these minerals is motivated by the rapid increase in demand for them due to global carbon neutrality pledges and industrial paradigm shifts, growing uncertainties caused by high supply concentration and increased resource weaponization, and the need to secure key minerals for a sustainable development of the domestic high-tech industry.

Therefore, Korea’s national supply of strategic minerals shall be stabilized by reducing import dependence on them from 80 to 50 percent, and increasing recycling rates from 2 to 20 percent by 2030. Other strategies include an increase of international resource cooperation, the expansion of stockpiles, and the establishment of an early warning system.

In total 33 minerals are assessed as being critical for Korea. In addition to the above mentioned strategic ones, these are aluminum, antimony, bismuth, chromium, copper, graphite, indium, lithium, manganese, molybdenum, niobium, platinum, palladium, selenium, silicon, strontium, tantalum, tin, titanium, tungsten, vanadium, zinc, and zirconium.


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