China is investing billions of U.S. dollars in minerals and metals supply and processing in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, investing more than $10 billion in metals and mining in the first half of 2023, a surge of 131% over 2022. Expectations are that China will control approximately one-third of the global lithium supply by 2025. China investments in critical minerals are part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to secure raw materials for batteries and solar panels.
The Chinese hold on the critical minerals markets is set to increase despite efforts of the U.S. and the EU to diversify their electric vehicle (EV) and renewables supply chains.
Bank UBS expects China to control nearly one-third of the global lithium supply by 2025. The bank said this surge would raise the Chinese share of global lithium supply to 32% in 2025, up from 24% in 2022. A report from Darton Commodities expects that China’s cobalt share is set to hit 50% of global cobalt output in the next two years. China’s CMOC Group is currently the second biggest producer of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo, providing 75% of the global supply.