Russia in significant volumes imports more than a third of strategic types of mineral raw materials and more than 60% of scarce types of minerals, and for some of them dependence on imports is 100%.
This is reported by the Accounts Chamber in the report on the effectiveness of the management of the state subsoil fund in 2018-20.
Foreign supplies cover 100% of the economy’s needs for titanium, chromium, manganese and lithium, as well as more than 87% of the demand for zirconium.
These metals are classified as strategic and scarce, and the basic industries, including metallurgy and the military-industrial complex, critically depend on supplies.
Titanium is used primarily in civil and military aircraft; steels with a high chromium content (up to 30%) are used, among other things, for the manufacture of hulls for submarines and space engines.
Lithium is used in nuclear energy, is used in aluminum smelting, rocket fuel creation, and is also necessary for the widespread introduction of energy storage technologies. Manganese is necessary for smelting stainless and other special types of steel, the joint venture lists.
In addition, Russia covers almost 50% of its copper demand by imports; two thirds – in bauxite; 100% depends on foreign supplies of iodine, and also purchases abroad fluorspar (95%), bentonites for foundry (89.6%), kaolin (68.3%).
These types of raw materials “have a wide range of applications and are used in the metallurgical, chemical, nuclear, medical and other industries,” according to the report of the Accounts Chamber.
Key supplying countries that Russian businesses depend on are Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Chile, China, Mongolia and South Africa.
So, Ukraine on average for 2018-2020 provided the supply of 82.9% titanium, 51.2% zirconium and 70% kaolin. Kazakhstan accounted for 87% of imported chromium and 73.2% of imported copper. 70.7% of lithium was imported from Chile, 83.3% of bauxite from China, and Mongolia supplied 85.2% of fluorspar.
At the moment, the state de facto does not have any plan for import substitution of scarce types of minerals; moreover, there is a lag behind the world level of development and use of technologies for enrichment and processing of raw materials, the Accounts Chamber notes.
The centers of competence, which the country inherited from the USSR, were lost; the production of rare earth metals (REM), as well as zirconium and ferrous metals – manganese and chromium – decreased or stopped completely.
In the context of already imposed sanctions limiting Russia’s access to modern technologies and potential threats of new restrictions, “dependence on imports of certain types of strategic and scarce raw materials creates risks of failure to provide various sectors of the Russian economy,” warns the Accounts Chamber.
“In this regard, there is a risk of a decrease in the competitiveness of the Russian SME (mineral resource base) in comparison with the leading resource countries of the world,” the report says.