Mineral and metal resources

Rare earth oxide samples are seen at mining company VTRE in Hanoi, Vietnam, on 7 September 2023. (Francesco Guarascio/Reuters)

Vietnam’s rare earth ambitions: Economic and strategic drivers

Vietnam is seeking to develop its rare earth industry at a time when global demand for such minerals is increasing. Its motivations are not merely economic, but also strategic.
Taliban soldiers celebrate on the second anniversary of the fall of Kabul on a street near the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 15 August 2023. (Ali Khara/Reuters)

Is China engaged in resource politics in Afghanistan?

With increasing stakes in Afghanistan's vast mineral and energy deposits, China is engaged in resource politics in the war-wracked but resource-rich country. Maintaining control of the country's strategic mineral and energy reserves is the name of China's new great game in Afghanistan.
The "Blue Supermoon", the second full moon of a calendar month, rises above the Apollo Temple in ancient Corinth, on 30 August 2023. (Valerie Gache/AFP)

The great powers’ revived interest in the moon

For mineral resources as well as various military and strategic reasons, the great powers of the world are reviving their interest in the moon. While US-China competition is strong, one should not forget that the US is actually the only country capable of establishing bases on the moon and putting its flag on large swathes of the moon in the next decade.
A central processing unit (CPU) semiconductor chip is displayed among flags of China and US, in this illustration picture taken 17 February 2023. (Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo/Reuters)

China’s new export controls on rare metals for chipmaking: Latest tit-for-tat in US-China tech war

The China-US tech war has heated up again as China imposes export restrictions on two rare metals widely used in strategic emerging industries. Lianhe Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu notes that this is a tit-for-tat move against the US for its export restriction of advanced chips and chipmaking technology to China. How will this latest move in the tech war affect the semiconductor industry and China-US relations?
Workers monitor the nickel melting process at a nickel smelter of PT Vale Tbk in Sorowako, South Sulawesi province, Indonesia, 30 March 2023. (Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters)

Indonesia's Chinese investment-dominated nickel industry: Social and environmental safeguards needed

Acknowledged as a key industry in the National Mid-Term Development Plan 2015-2019, Indonesia's nickel industry has witnessed significant investments, especially from China. While the industry faced a boom from the Russian-Ukraine conflict and the easing of China’s zero-Covid policy, the unchecked growth of Class 2 nickel production from Indonesia could cause oversupply in global markets and suppress the commodity’s price. In crafting new policies, Indonesia must also prioritise stronger social and environmental safeguards.
This aerial photo taken on 21 July 2022 shows a bucket wheel machine tranferring coal at a coal storage centre in Jiujiang, in China's central Jiangxi province. (AFP)

Sichuan power crunch sparks calls for rethink of coal in China's energy mix

Extreme weather and declining water levels at hydropower reservoirs in Sichuan are sparking worries of a power crunch across China. This has forced electricity cuts to businesses and households in the province of 84 million people, along with loud calls for a rethink of coal in the nation’s energy mix, putting a spanner in the works of its goal to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030.
A young woman walks in the train station of Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, on 2 August 2022. (Bulent Kilic/AFP)

Russia-Ukraine war: Impacts on global supply chains and China-Ukraine relations

Ukrainian academic Olga Brusylovska explains why the world economy and food supply are in turmoil from the Russia-Ukraine war, and how the war is also affecting China-Ukraine relations and China's trade and investments in Ukraine.
A conveyer belt dumps iron ore into a pile at an iron ore transfer and storage centre operated by the Shanghai International Port Group in Shanghai, China, on 26 January 2010. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

China’s plan to break foreign iron ore dependence — mine more at home

China's "Foundation Plan" for iron ore has gained much official support, and is aimed at reducing reliance on foreign sources of iron, including Africa and Australia. The only way to do this effectively is for China to ramp up mining of its own iron resources. However, these resources are scattered and difficult to access, and of lower grade. This means China has its work cut out if it is to succeed.
This aerial picture taken on 16 October 2021 shows trucks loaded with coal waiting near Gants Mod port at the Chinese border with Gashuun Sukhait, in Umnugovi province, in Mongolia. (Uugansukh Byamba/AFP)

Between a rock and a hard place: Mongolia’s ambivalent relations with China

Sandwiched between Russia to the north and China to the south, landlocked Mongolia has always had tough choices to make in its foreign policy strategies. Towards China, which it used to be a part of and continues to share kinship ties with the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, it harbours historical suspicion. But with China being its top export destination and key investment partner, the head may rule the heart.