Greenfields Research

Blog Header Image

Seven strategies for the rare earths industry (Australian Resources & Investment)

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Book Reviews, Exploration, Mining, Publications, Recommended


There is an article I authored in this month’s Australian Resources & Investment magazine entitled “Seven strategies for the rare earths industry”. As the title suggests the article outlines seven strategies for rare earths miners: The First Mover; The Niche; The Fast-Follower; The Disrupter; The By-Product; The Experimentalist; and The Alternative Road. The article concludes by making the point that rare earths miners should avoid a “pig iron strategy”. Pursuing one strategy that appears good under a specific future scenario, but that would be a poor move if other future scenarios arise. This is not a robust strategy – such strategies are like pig iron: strong, but brittle. A particularly poor idea in an industry as uncertain as the rare earths industry. Rare earths miners therefore need to be flexible, able to pursue multiple strategies simultaneously and move quickly between them as circumstances change. Copies of Australian Resources & Investment magazine can be purchased online or in Australian newsagents.

As an aside, The Economist featured an article last week by Business Columnist ‘Schumpeter’ entitled “A palette of plans” reviewing a new book by Boston Consulting Group strategists entitled “Your Strategy Needs a Strategy”. I have not read the book, but the review by Schumpeter seems to indicate that the book covers much of the same ground as my article above, reviewing classical strategies such as “find a good niche”; “adaptive, evolutionary”; “a whole new market” etc. The book however highlights the need for bosses to understand the basic “strategy palette” and to be “ambidextrous” in their approach to strategy, again being able to pursue several simultaneously and to quickly switch between different strategies. Whilst not realising it, I am obviously somewhat in debt to these leading strategists. It is clear that the classical strategies they describe in their book are already so well infused into the business zeitgeist that I do not need to read their book to know what they are talking about! [Nonetheless I’ve added it to my burgeoning reading list.]