product, minerals also have a significant general value to the U.S. economy from both a financial standpoint and an employment standpoint (discussed in some detail at the close of this chapter). Globally the demand for minerals is also important and is increasing. In the emerging economies of countries such as China and India, where industrial output has surpassed
Emerging Economies: An Example in China
The emergence and growth of several foreign economies have been of interest to U.S. industries and economic analysts for a number of years. Recent international media attention to the very rapid rates of economic and industrial growth particularly in China and India, relative to Europe, North America, and Japan, indicates that the emerging economies and their global influence are also gaining public interest. Nonfuel minerals factor directly into this situation as key inputs to continued industrialization and manufacturing output for emerging economies, as these nations satisfy both their own, growing domestic consumer needs and the large international demand for their exported products.
As one example, China has become a leading global consumer of products such as cell phones, televisions, and refrigerators and will soon surpass the United States in the consumption of personal computers and automobiles in absolute terms (McCartan et al., 2006). The U.S. trade deficit with China indicates that China is not only a consumer nation, but also a producer of many types of goods for export. The increase in consumer purchases in China has been fueled by industrialization that has triggered a better national standard of living, which in turn feeds further demand for manufactured goods and the infrastructure to power and use those goods. The same can also be said of emerging economies in other nations and represents the path of industrialization that was followed during the past century by North America, Japan, and Europe, among others.
China is endowed with abundant natural mineral resources. Whereas in 1973 the United States was the world’s leading nonfuel mineral producer, today China is the world’s leading producer and consumer of minerals, but it no longer has the domestic capacity to satisfy its demands for minerals such as iron ore, nickel, copper, and cobalt (McCartan et al., 2006; Reynolds, 2007). China’s dominance as a global mineral supplier, coupled with its own demand for minerals, gives it a very direct global market influence on the supply of minerals. In 2004, China also increased its own mineral production capacity and appar-