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Russia depends on imports of many critical minerals - report

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(Kitco News) - According to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, over the past three years, Russia has imported more than a third of strategic types of minerals, and such dependence on foreign supplies of scarce minerals carries risks for national security, especially in the context of existing sanctions, the agency said.

These scathing findings have been reported by the Russian State Chamber of Accounts following an audit of the effectiveness of the state subsoil fund management system for 2018-2020.

"In the period under review, more than a third of strategic types of minerals and more than 60 percent of scarce types of minerals were imported in significant volumes," the document revealed.

According to the report, the needs of the Russian economy in manganese, chromium, titanium and lithium over the past three years have been fully met through imports, and for zirconium this indicator averaged 87.2% for the period.

These types of mineral resources are not only strategic, but also scarce, and are important for the variety of economic sectors. "The emergence of interruptions in import supplies can create risks for the full functioning of the branches of ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, the military-industrial complex, the aerospace industry, the chemical industry, and medicine," the auditors warned.

The department also noted a high share of imports of some types of minerals that are not strategic, but extremely important for different economic sectors: iodine – 100%, fluorspar – 95%, bentonites for foundry - 89.6%, kaolin - 68.3%. These minerals have a wide range of applications and are used in metallurgical, chemical, nuclear, medical and other industries.

"In addition, domestic enterprises do not fully meet the demand for raw materials for such strategic types of mineral resources as bauxite (the share of imports for the period was 68.6% on average), copper (49.6%), molybdenum (40.2%)", the report indicated.

Russia also imports compounds of certain minerals - for example, beryllium compounds, oxides of separated rare earth metals, or individual metals and their mixtures.

The main suppliers of strategic and scarce types of minerals to Russia are Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Chile, China, Mongolia, South Africa.

"On average, Ukraine supplied 82.9% of titanium, 51.2% of zirconium and 70% of kaolin; Kazakhstan accounted for 87% of imported chromium and 73.2% of imported copper; 70.7% of lithium was imported from Chile; 83.3% of bauxite is from China; Mongolia supplied 85.2% of fluorspar," the report revealed.

According to the Chamber of Accounts, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia does not take sufficient measures to substitute imports of scarce types of minerals and strategic mineral raw materials, and the existing measures are ineffective.

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