The race for 5G is in full swing between the two largest economies of the world. However, China is looking far into the future with its investments abroad into the mining sector. China has set a firm gaze on the metals and minerals that are instrumental to fuel the digital economy of the future. While its competitor in this race may not be as cognizant of the need to control the required raw materials, China has been steadily making investments across the world in the mining sector.
China is ahead of the US in recognizing the need for these raw materials that are scattered across a limited number of countries. Satellites that enable lighting fast data transfers, smart phones, cars and tablets all require certain metals and minerals. Through its various investments in mining well outside its boundaries, China wants to ensure that it has all the raw material that will help it smoothly sail into the increasingly digital future as a dominant force. There have been several investments, often state-backed or by state-owned enterprises that are trying to lock up supplies of these indispensable raw materials in countries as far as in Africa and South America.
The action plan was devised as early as 2016 under the “Made in China 2025” initiative with an agenda to locate resource-rich hotspots across the world. Following that plan, China has been well on its course to invest in countries that are rich in minerals. They have developed and secured mineral reserves in quite a few courtiers through a combination of private and government investments.
Plans were created to work at an impeccable rate. The slump in the metal resource prices from 2011 to 2015 had left many mining businesses in dire need of capital. Even truly global firms such as Anglo American were cutting down on their workforces and saw themselves struggling financially.
China struck deals with mining companies, buying controlling stakes in most and even outright acquiring mines in a number of cases. Furthermore, they invested in the development of the resources at many promising sites by laying down the infrastructure and striking long term agreements with host countries for a share in future productions. The case of the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) is a classic example of this. DRC is cobalt-heaven as it produces two thirds of the cobalt of the world. Cobalt is the primary metal used in the production of batteries. China has invested almost 6 billion dollars in the industry there and has won a major stake in the resources over the years.