China relies more heavily on mineral imports
China's development requirements mean an increasing reliance on imported oil, iron, gold and other minerals, the Ministry of Natural Resources said on Tuesday.
China has overtaken the US as the world's biggest crude oil buyer, and China relies heavily on imports of cobalt, nickel and lithium to develop strategic emerging industries, Ju Jianhua, a ministry official said at a press conference on Tuesday.
China is increasingly dependent on imports for 95 percent of chrome, 90 percent of cobalt, 79 percent of gold, 73 percent of copper, 73 percent of iron ore and 67 percent of oil, the ministry's website quoted Ju as saying.
China's need for mineral resources is also reflected in the slow growth in detecting and developing mineral resource reserves and insufficient innovation and pollution from small and medium mines, Ju said.
"The amount of mineral resources imported has exceeded the expectations of many experts, and the heavy reliance of imports poses a great risk to China," Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
For example, Lin said that possible oil price fluctuations in wartime could lead to an economic shock.
Lin said China should find an alternative for some mineral resources and called on all enterprises and individuals to conserve their use.
The newly confirmed reserves of domestic oil, natural gas and coal have decreased in 2017, with oil reserve dropping from 1.5 billion tons in 2012 to 877 million tons in 2017, and natural gas from 961 billion cubic meters to 555 billion cubic meters, the ministry said.
At the press conference, Ju called on China to strengthen international cooperation on mineral resources to solve soaring import costs.
China is working with other countries in exploiting mineral resources, including iron and copper.
Peru's energy and mine authority recently approved the application of the Zhongrong Xinda Group, a Qingdao-based company on energy, chemicals and minerals development, the company told the Global Times on Wednesday.
The company owns 30 mineral rights in Pongo, Peru covering a total of 263 square kilometers. Pongo's mining projects contain deposits of gold, iron and copper estimated to be worth $10.5 billion, the company said.
"It's important for China, the world's largest consumer of iron ore and largest producer of steel, to establish its own quality iron ore base, and Chinese companies should strive to build a successful overseas mineral base to offer resource support to China's economy," according to information the company sent the Global Times.
The Metallurgical Mines Association of China said China could import an estimated 1.1 billion tons of iron ore in 2018.