Mining Raw Material Networks – literally


The buzzword in Finland nowadays is innovation. Innovations (in the technological sense) are expected to solve most of the risks to national economies brought by globalization. Mainly this risk has been euphemism for China. Greentech, cleantech and other new innovative technologies are the results of knowledge and information intensive labor. These technologies however, are reliant to raw materials. The European Commission issued a report on critical raw materials and their producers. According to the report a material is critical material if

  1. their significant economic importance for key sectors
  2. high supply risks
  3. lack of substitutes

In the data is a network perspective. The following picture is all of the raw materials produced and the nations producing them.


Some raw materials can be found in Europe and some are not that critical. The report lists 14 different raw materials that are both of economic importance and have a supply risk. Can you guess the most central nation?


Of the nations producing these critical materials the most central are China, Russia, Canada, Brazil and USA. China and Russia are by far the most central. Of the raw material least central – and therefore more reliant on the few nations producing them – are gallium and niobium.

If a two nations produce the same raw material, they can be considered to have a connection. This means that if two countries produce lot of the same raw materials, their economies have more in common. This is what the world of raw materials looks like.


When discussing about innovation technology as a competitive advantage, it’s always good to remember where do the raw materials come from. Heavy reliance on China with raw materials may not be best solution. The Finnish forest industry has had some hard lessons with eucalyptus trees from South America. Network analysis can provide this visual insight to important questions. And network visualization look cooler than charts.

Pics made with Gephi


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