Critical raw materials

Close

HREEs

LREEs

Germanium

Borate

Strontium

Natural Graphite

Bauxite

Indium

Lithium

Coking coal

Flourspar

Baryte

Gallium

Hafnium

Tantalum

Silicon

Phosphate rock

Natural rubber

Titanium

Vanadium

Antimony

Bismuth

Berylium

PGMs

Cobalt

Tungsten

Scandium

Phosphorous

Niobium

Magnesium

Supply risk

Economic importance

Research

Practice

Exhibitions

Critical Raw Materials

Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) are resources deemed economically and strategically important for the economy of a sovereign state, and have a high-risk associated with their supply. Criticality is not derived from scarcity, but rather through the covalence between significant economic importance, high-supply risk and the lack of feasible substitutes. In the EU, this has been overseen by the Critical Raw Material Initiative (CRMI) established in 2008. The landing page of this website shows the current CRMI graph. FRAUD argues that the relationship between international relations, trade, economic policy and border security come into focus through the lens of these national resource management initiatives.

Commercial Extinction

Commercial extinction is a term derived from environmental economics that designates a decline of a resource to a level where harvesting is no longer profitable.1 It has been used marginally to explain technological succession - the eternal discussion between VHS and BETA for instance. However, it appears mostly in discussions around fisheries conservation. Species extinction and commercial extinction are related concepts—the latter often precedes the former. On the other hand, such forms of exhaustion disentangle from one another in the case of the highly sought-after Bluefin Tuna. A nearing extinction in this case drives an exponential price increase, carefully managed by the very international organisations tasked for their conservation.2 However, these modes of depletion (species vs commercial extinction) fail to apprehend the complex technosocial assemblages that saturate such phenomena.

Commercial extinctions have been embedded in many European imperial and colonial projects such as in the case of forest laws. Rules, laws, and policies directed at the conservation and management of forests were not always instituted after veritable evidences, but rather under a growing fear of resource scarcity.3 Environmental historians also remind us that the exhaustion of marine resources was one factor among many pushing sea-bound communities into fishing on deeper and further waters, across the Atlantic and through the Northwest Passage.4 Importantly also, is the fact that technological innovation and development in fishing gear had nothing to do with increasing efficiency and or performance. More often than not, the adoption of novel fishing technologies or methods was tied to the need to keep similar catch volumes as fish stock plummeted.5 In contrast to fishing communities, who often understood the complex fragility of marine environments, marine scholars often depicted the sea as boundless or immortal - outside of history - throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Commercial extinction entails death from economic, social, or cultural realms but not from the total—and virtual—inventory of marine life. That is to say, a community of organisms remain, just not enough to catch commercially. Commercial extinction is a form a “slow death” in Lauren Berlant’s terms: a “mass physical attenuation under global/national regimes of capitalist structural subordination and governmentality.”6 Such modes of extinction point toward the relative and destructive nature of capital. While commercial extinction reduces fishing grounds to mere objects of exploitation, it also shows the very exhaustion of exhaustion. It often paradoxically affords the survival of a species.7


  1. National Marine Sanctuaries (2018) ‘Fisheries Glossary - Voices of the Bay,’ National Marine Sactuaries [Web]. 

  2. Telesca, J. (2020) Red Gold: The Managed Extinction of the Giant Bluefin Tuna. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 

  3. Radkau, J. (2012) Wood: A History. Cambridge and Malden: Polity Press. 

  4. Galloway, J.A. (2017) “Fishing in Medieval England,” in Balard, M. & Buchet, C. (eds.) The Sea in History: The Medieval. Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, pp. 629–642. 

  5. Bolster, J.W. (2012) The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press. 

  6. Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), 95. 

  7. Gallardo F.J.F, & Samson, A. (2018) “Commercial Extinction: the Exhaustion of Exhaustion,” in Fernandez Pascual, D. & Schwabe A. (eds.) The Empire Remains Shop. London and New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 109-119. 

Drago

Dracaena draco, the Canary Islands dragon tree or drago, is a subtropical tree. It is native to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira, and western Morocco as well as to much of the scenes of the classical imaginary of the Hesperides Garden. It was revered by local peasants and its blooming fearfully observed for its forecast: "[i]f the tree flourished on the north side, the year was rainy in the highlands; if on the south, drought was to be expected. And woe to our fields when the dragon trees did not bloom! An observer noted that in 1851 all dragon trees bloomed in August - followed by the most dreadful drought on the island. However, the following winter rains were copious, which covered the coastal areas and the midlands with the greenest fields." 1


  1. Rodríguez, L (1947). Los Arboles Históricos y Tradicionales de Canarias. Santa Cruz de Tenerife: La Prensa, pp. 105-6. 

EURAFRICA

Eurafrica was (and still is) an intellectual and geo-political vehicle by which the ultimate success of the European integration project (i.e., ECSC, EEC, or the EU) was made contingent upon access to resources from the African continent. As Peo Hansen and Stefan Jonsson explain, the Eurafrican project “consolidated colonial inequality in the mid-twentieth century and perpetuated it into the contemporary world order”.1 It was conceived and articulated in the interwar period by Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi or Paolo D’Agostino Orsini di Camerota among others.2 After WWII, Eurafrica was notably problematised by France’s efforts to integrate its own colonial empire (i.e. Algeria) into the European political sphere.3


  1. Hansen, P., & Jonsson, S. (2014). Eurafrica: The untold history of European integration and colonialism. Bloomsbury Publishing. 

  2. Thorpe, B. J. (2018). Eurafrica: A Pan-European Vehicle for Central European Colonialism (1923–1939). European Review, 26(3), 503-513. 

  3. For further information on the latter, see Samson, Audrey and Francisco Gallardo. Interview by FRAUD. “Stefan Jonsson and Peo Hansen: Eurafrica.” EURO—VISION. EURO—VISION podcast. January 28, 2021. 

Free Trade Zones

Free Trade Zones, Special Economic Zones, Foreign Trade Zones, Export Oriented zones, or just Free Zones are one of the many dirty secrets of modernity.1 They are enclaves carved out of national territories that are granted exceptional administrative and/or economic freedoms allowing to circumvent labour rights, environmental law and national taxation. Used as a weapon to de-industrialise occupied economies, Free Ports transformed territories into underdeveloped peripheries reliant upon resource extraction and tariff-free trade.2 After the Cold War, Free Trade Zones (arguably, resulting from the evolution of Free Ports) became a mandatory recipe and prescription from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to secure bailouts. Labour in these zones is disposable at "any moment, "at any moment or for any reason or hint of a reason."3 The COVID pandemic and consequent economic crisis has fuelled a mushrooming of FTZs around the world. In the UK, these newly de-territorialised areas have been heralded as the solution to the economic crisis compounded by Brexit.


  1. Tazzara, C. (2018) 'Capitalism and the Special Economic Zone, 1590-2014', in Fredona, R. and Reinert, S.A. (eds.) New perspectives on the history of political economy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 75-102. 

  2. Easterling, K. (2014) Extrastatecraft: the Power of Infrastructure Space. London and New York: Verso. 

  3. Bolaño, R. (2004) 2666. Barcelona: Anagrama. 

Fisheries Partnerships Agreements

Fisheries Partnership Agreements (FPA) are bilateral agreements between the EU (which negotiates fishing access on behalf of member states) and third parties. They currently involve financial contributions in exchange for fishing possibilities as well as a contribution to partnership actions such as stock assessments, control monitoring and surveillance activities, which are broadly aligned to the EU’s Sustainable Development Strategy.1 In this way, FPAs not only govern access to water resources, they constitute an integral part of contemporary international developmental and human rights agenda.2 FPAs proliferated in anticipation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which saw the establishment of exclusive economic zones (EEZ), severely restricting access to waters 200 nautical miles from a nation’s coast. Importantly also was the stamping by the UNCLOS of the obligation to not leave fisheries unexploited in its article 62, also known as ‘use it or lose it clause’. 3 It is through these agreements that the EU widens its sovereign waters. 4

However, these associations are often undeserving of the term partnership, 1 for as Saiba Bayo and Ernst Krose argue in the context of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), this is an alien word for the EU.5 The majority of FPAs are concluded with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States, former colonies of many member states. FPAs rarely include reference to the interests of small-scale fisheries sectors of the signatory country, 5 and constitute the locale for intersecting overfishing with migration. So-called ‘irregular immigration’ into Europe during the 1970s took place on large fishing trawlers.6 Nearly 80% of crews calling for Spanish fishing ports like Vigo are originally from regions in which FPAs have decisively contributed to the collapse of local fisheries like Senegal and/or Mauritania.7 The EU claims that its fishing efforts only target surplus species. In effect, it outsources pelagic exhaustion from the North Sea waters, all the while stock assessments remain to be undertaken (notwithstanding the instrumentality of such calculations for the management of extinction of species such as bluefin tuna).8


  1. Mundt, M. (2012) ‘The Effects of EU Fisheries Partnership Agreements on Fish Stocks and Fishermen: The Case of Cape Verde,’ in Evans, T., Eckhard, H., Hansjörg, H., Kronauer, M., and Mahnkopf, B.(eds.) Institute for International Political Economy Berlin, Working Paper, No. 12/2012. 

  2. Antonova, A.S. (2016) ‘The Rhetoric of “Responsible Fishing”: Notions of Human Rights and Sustainability in the European Union's Bilateral Fishing Agreements with Developing States,’ Marine Policy, 70(1), pp. 77-84. 

  3. Campling, L. and Colás, A. (2021) Capitalism and the Sea: The Maritime Factor in the Making of the Modern World. London and New York: Verso Books. 

  4. European Commission (2009) ‘Fishing in Wider waters,’ Common Fisheries Policy: An user’s guide, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. 

  5. Bayo, S., and Krose, E. (n.d.) 'Los Acuerdos de Colaboración Económica (EPA) entre la Unión Europea y África: La Cara Oculta del Neocolonialismo y de las Migraciones Africanas hacia Europa.' 

  6. Brent, Z. W., and Thibault J. (2020) ‘Migration and fisheries: exploring the intersections,’ The Transnational Institute, July 1st. 

  7. Van den Bossche, K. and Van Der Burgt, N. (2009) ‘Fisheries Partnership Agreements under the European Common Fisheries Policy: An External Dimension of Sustainable Development?,’ Studia diplomatica, 1(1), pp.103-125. 

  8. Telesca, J.E. (2020) Red Gold: The Managed Extinction of the Giant Bluefin Tuna. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,. 

FRAUD

FRAUD (Audrey Samson & Francisco Gallardo) is a London-based artist/architect duo which develops modes of art-led enquiry that examine financialisation through extractive practices. Through their practice, FRAUD cultivate critical spatial literacy and cosmogony building.
i: @la_fraud

Public-Private Partnerships

Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) have been described by developmental economists as budgetary time bombs.1 Technically, they are long-term contractual arrangements whereby institutional investors and asset managers agree to finance and manage certain public services such as hospitals, highways, energy production plants, housing, or the supply of water and sewage - in so far as the state agrees to bears the brunt of some or all associated risks. It represents risk-free investment for the private investor, the risk being shouldered by the tax payer. PPPs are sometimes called Blended Investment, these have been heralded by Boris Johnson as key in attracting foreign investment. Ndongo Samba Sylla explains PPPs in further detail in Ep 3 of the EURO—VISION podcast series: Colonial Currencies and Other Investment Stratagems.2


  1. Samba Sylla, D. & Gabor, D. (2021) "Planting budgetary time bombs in Africa: the Macron Doctrine En Marche," Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt cadtm.org, 14 January [Online]. 

  2. Samson, Audrey and Francisco Gallardo. Interview by FRAUD. “Ndongo Samba Sylla: Colonial Currencies & Other Investment Stratagems.” EURO—VISION. EURO—VISION podcast. April 21, 2021. euro-vision.net