Blessing or curse? The rise of mineral dependence among low- and middle-income countries
December 2011
Many low- and middle-income countries have become dangerously dependent on exports of minerals such as metals and hydrocarbons, according to a new OPM study, leaving the countries highly vulnerable to a global economic downturn.

The study, believed to be the first of its kind, charts the evolution of mineral dependence among low- and middle-income countries from 1996 to 2010 and assesses their relative vulnerability to the so-called 'resource curse', characterised by weak economic and institutional development. Mineral-dependent countries are defined as countries that depend on minerals for at least 25% of their tangible exports.

Key findings from the study include:
  • Since 1996, the number of low- and middle-income countries that depend on exports of minerals has increased by 33%, from 46 to 61 countries. About 75% of all mineral-dependent countries are now low- and middle-income countries.
  • Dependence levels have also increased significantly, especially among countries that depend on non-fuel minerals such as iron ore, copper and gold. Between 2005 and 2010, for example, 14 non-fuel, mineral-dependent countries increased their dependence ratios by more than 25 percentage points, compared to just one fuel-dependent country. The average dependence ratio for all mineral-dependent countries was 60% in 2010.
  • Non-fuel, mineral-dependent countries are more likely to have stunted economic development than their fuel-dependent counterparts. However, both fuel-dependent and non-fuel, mineral dependent countries are likely to suffer from institutional problems such as weak government capacity and corruption.
  • More than 20 countries are particularly vulnerable to the resource curse and at risk from a slowing world economy.
The full report, including details of all 95 mineral-dependent countries, as well as policy recommendations, can be downloaded below.

See links below for coverage from various publications, including an article in FT.com.
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