Accounts Chamber: Russia heavily dependent on certain mineral imports

Russian industries have to import many minerals and raw materials for their normal operation. The Accounts Chamber calls for additional measures to substitute these imports, as strong dependence on foreign supplies carries risks to national security.

Russia depends on imports of many critical minerals, says Kitco News citing a report by the country’s Accounts Chamber. The report following an audit of the effectiveness of the state subsoil fund management system for 2018-2020 showed that during this period, Russia imported more than a third of strategic types of minerals and over 60% of scarce types of minerals.

Over the past three years, the needs of the Russian economy for manganese, chromium, titanium and lithium have been fully met through imports, reads the report adding that for zirconium, this indicator averaged 87,2%. The auditors warn that these types of mineral resources are not only strategic but also scarce and important for a variety of economic sectors. “The emergence of interruptions in import supplies can create risks to the full operation of branches of ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, the military-industrial complex, the aerospace industry, the chemical industry and medicine,” they say.

The majority of bauxite (83,3%) imported by Russia in 2018-2020 originated from China. Photo: Norsk Hydro ASA

Russia also imports a number of minerals that are not strategic but extremely important for different economic sectors. Such minerals as iodine, fluorspar or kaolin 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%),” reads the report.

Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Chile, China, Mongolia and South Africa are the main exporters of strategic and scarce minerals to Russia. In 2018-2020, Ukraine supplied on average 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, while 70,7% of lithium was imported from Chile and 83,3% of bauxite — from China. According to the Accounts Chamber, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia should consider additional measures to substitute imports of scarce types of minerals and strategic mineral raw materials, as the existing measures are ineffective.

By Anna Litvina