China is ramping up its internal hunt for critically important minerals and energy resources to bolster strategic reserves, as Beijing doubles down on economic security and continues to warn of the rising risks associated with relying on external markets. “China has a high degree of foreign dependence on some important mineral resources, and once the international situation changes, it will certainly affect economic security or even national security,” Wang Guanghua, the nation’s minister of natural resources, said in an interview with the state-run Xinhua on Thursday. Wang added that China needs to promote a higher level of opening up and must plan ahead to “ensure domestic resource security” in the face of “special circumstances”. Last month, the director of the State Key Laboratory of Safety and Health for Metal Mines was quoted by the Caixin media group as saying that around two-thirds of China’s strategic mineral production and supply was highly dependent on external sources. And this, Wang Yunmin reportedly said at a forum on raw materials, puts the country in a disadvantageous position on the global stage. China expands South China Sea gas field with eye on energy transition “International geopolitics has become an important factor affecting China’s resource supply,” he added. Wang Yunmin, who is also an academic with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, noted how China’s acquisition of more than 10 kinds of important minerals depends mostly on external sources. He said these include iron ore at 82 per cent, chrome ore at 98 per cent, manganese ore at 96 per cent, cobalt ore at 95 per cent, nickel ore at 90 per cent, and both copper ore and oil at 78 per cent. China’s resource reserves of 15 strategic minerals, including oil and gas, iron, copper, aluminium and nickel, account for less than 20 per cent of the world’s total, he said, adding that China’s oil reserves account for a mere 1.5 per cent of the global total, while its coal reserves account for only 13.2 per cent. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbated a global energy crisis in 2022. The invasion and the ensuing Western sanctions have roiled the markets and geopolitics of energy, driving oil and gas prices to their highest levels in nearly a decade and forcing many countries to reconsider their energy supplies. Russia is the world’s largest oil exporter to global markets, and its natural gas has long fuelled the European economy. Natural gas prices hit multi-year highs and oil reached nearly US$140 a barrel, accelerating a post-coronavirus inflationary spiral that led to a cost-of-living crisis in many countries. Diplomatic tensions, coupled with global market turbulence, have forced China to underscore energy security and its reliance on imported energy and mineral resources, with Beijing out to offset external shocks and hostilities by enhancing domestic explorations. China’s 169 new coal mines undermine pledge to phase out fossil fuel, NGO says The world’s second-largest economy will launch a new round of domestic strategic mineral mining operations while investing in efforts to bolster reserves that will help it enhance long-term security, according to Wang Guanghua. China had previously encouraged domestic exploration of iron ore and lifted an import ban on scrap metals to reduce reliance on imports from countries such as Australia, while streamlining production quotas for rare earth and tungsten. In the 2021-25 raw material development plan, authorities said iron ore self-sufficiency would be “significantly” increased by lifting the supply of scrap steel to more than 30 per cent of the total, encouraging domestic mining and reducing steelmaking capacity .