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Vol 2 (AAC) No 10

Published 1st August 2009

Strategic resources and global rivalries

All modern economies face the challenge of securing access to strategic minerals: cobalt, used to make superalloys; rare earth metals like neodymium, which is used in the manufacture of hybrid automotive engines and computer hard disks, and the dull black ore known as coltan, used to make components of cellphones. There is no consensus on what minerals are regarded as strategic; that depends on a country's industrial and resource base. Widely defined, a strategic mineral is one seen as necessary for essential civilian, industrial and military needs during a national emergency. The United States government classified nearly a hundred different minerals as 'strategic' from diamonds to chromium.

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