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Assessing mineral supply concentration from different perspectives through a case study of zinc

March 2, 2022

Increasing demand for nonfuel mineral commodities has increased concerns regarding the reliability of their supplies. “Criticality” assessments over the past decade have attempted to capture this concern through a set of indicators, the most common of which quantifies the risk associated with market concentration by applying the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) to the world production of a given commodity by country in a given year. Although this approach is useful, it inherently assumes that all of world production is available to the market and is thus potentially at risk. In this analysis, the HHI, as well as HHI weighted by country governance, is calculated for mined and refined zinc using the standard approach of using all world production data and comparing that to the HHI when using the best estimate of what is available to the world market. The results indicate that although the HHI of both mined and refined zinc world production has increased markedly over the past decade, the HHI for what is available to the market for mined and refined zinc has remained relatively constant and low, which is indicative of minimal supply risk. This is mainly owing to the fact that a large and increasing share of the world’s mined and refined zinc production comes from China, but that production supplies domestic consumption as well as small amounts of exports. As a result, the zinc materials that are available to the world market outside of China are produced by a relatively large and diverse set of countries. Although these analyses are specific to zinc, they are likely to be comparable for other commodities of which the largest producers are also the largest consumers and highlight the importance of examining different perspectives in criticality assessments.

Publication Year 2022
Title Assessing mineral supply concentration from different perspectives through a case study of zinc
DOI 10.1007/s13563-021-00291-2
Authors Christine L. Thomas, Nedal T. Nassar, John H. DeYoung
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Mineral Economics
Index ID 70229180
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Minerals Information Center