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Volatility drivers on the metal market and exposure of producing countries

Author

Listed:
  • Sven Renner

    (The World Bank
    University of Dundee)

  • Friedrich W. Wellmer

Abstract

The paper focuses on minor metals and coupled elements and aspires to understand individual incidents of imbalance on the mineral markets during the last 100 years and gain insight into the acting dynamics—those dynamics are commodity-specific but remain largely unchanged in their nature to date—and to identify the factors in play. The conclusions allow for a critical analysis of the widespread security-of-supply narrative of industrialized countries. They point at a market that is mostly a buyers’ market, in which prices and their volatility are largely dictated by shifting demand patterns and much less by supply constraints. Neither high country concentration nor poor governance seem to have a substantial or lasting impact on market balance. Short-term market imbalances are generally neutralized by a dynamic reaction on the demand side via substitution, efficiency gains or technological change. The paper also assesses the impact of those quickly shifting demand patterns and the related price volatilities on producing countries. It shows how mineral price volatilities can expose developing countries’ economies to significant economic risk, if their economy is heavily dependent on mineral production. Two cases that illustrate country exposure are explored in detail—the saltpeter crisis in Chile and the tin crisis in Bolivia. Both led to state bankruptcy. The paper concludes with an attempt to quantify economic exposure of producing countries to price volatilities of specific metals and suggests policies that adapt to the characteristic challenges of highly volatile demand.

Suggested Citation

  • Sven Renner & Friedrich W. Wellmer, 2020. "Volatility drivers on the metal market and exposure of producing countries," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 33(3), pages 311-340, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:33:y:2020:i:3:d:10.1007_s13563-019-00200-8
    DOI: 10.1007/s13563-019-00200-8
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Gracelin Baskaran, 2021. "Firms’ approach to mitigating risks in the platinum group metals sector," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 34(3), pages 385-398, October.
    3. Julia Pelzeter & Vanessa Bach & Martin Henßler & Klaus Ruhland & Matthias Finkbeiner, 2022. "Enhancement of the ESSENZ Method and Application in a Case Study on Batteries," Resources, MDPI, vol. 11(6), pages 1-25, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Minerals; Metals; Volatility; Raw materials; Substitution; Low-income countries;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O23 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Fiscal and Monetary Policy in Development
    • O25 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Industrial Policy
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • Q31 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q32 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Exhaustible Resources and Economic Development
    • Q33 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Resource Booms (Dutch Disease)
    • Q34 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts
    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)

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