We explain what the raw material is, how it is classified and why it is so important. In addition, the countries that export it and examples.
What is the raw material?
The raw material is understood as all those elements extracted directly from nature , in its pure or relatively pure state, and which can subsequently be transformed, through industrial processing, into final goods for consumption , energy or semi-finished goods that feed in turn other secondary industrial circuits. They are the basic input of the industrial chain, and are due to the primary sector of the productive chain.
There are numerous types and forms of raw material, as many as manufacturing processes . Its mechanisms are also diverse, since some raw materials are directly within our reach and others must be searched in the depths of the earth’s crust (mining), at the bottom of the seas or they must even be derived or synthesized from others. raw Materials.
The demand for raw materials in industrial society is constant and abundant, not only for the elaboration of consumer goods, but also to feed processes for obtaining energy, by burning fossil fuels or atomic processing of minerals such as uranium. Paradoxically, the countries that produce this raw material are mostly from the third world , that is, from the least developed, since they must consume at a higher cost the products made by developed countries with their own raw material.
Types of raw material
The raw material can be classified in different ways, starting with its availability on our planet. Thus, one can speak of:
- Raw material not renewable. That which exists as a product of long geological or historical processes on our planet, and whose reserves are at risk of ending if the rate of consumption does not follow rational patterns. For example: oil or fossil coal.
- Renewable or superabundant raw material. That which is either in constant and rapid reproduction, or at levels so but so abundant that it is virtually impossible to exhaust them, at least in the short and medium term. For example: hydrogen gas or solar energy .
On the other hand, the raw material can also be classified based on its origin:
- Vegetable origin. It comes from trees, plants, seeds, fruits and natural derivatives, such as wood, rubber, cork, etc.
- Animal origin. They are or were part of the life of an animal, that is, its bodies (wool, leather, skins, etc.) or its vital processes (milk, pearls, silk, etc.).
- Mineral origin. Matter from terrestrial deposits, or from amalgams and mixtures of metals and other elements, such as iron, copper , gold, silver, etc.
- Fossil origin. These are organic waste subjected to millenary sedimentation and fossilization processes, resulting in hydrocarbons of high chemical and energy value.
- Universal origin. Elements created together with the planet, present in ordinary liquid or gaseous substances, such as water or air .
- Synthetic origin. Materials that do not exist in nature and must be created by the human being , such as certain isotopes of Uranium.
Importance of the raw material
The raw material is considered the basis of the human industrial process , that is, the starting point of any production or manufacturing chain. Without it there would be no elements to transform and combine through various processes, in order to obtain more elaborate ones and endowed with added value. For this reason, the price of the raw material affects the final prices of the products produced, and this involves operational factors such as their abundance, their difficulty of extraction or their difficulty of transformation.
Raw material exporting countries
The major countries producing raw materials in the world of the 21st century are generally countries of the so-called Third World, especially in Asia, Africa and South America , where mineral and biological resources abound to export. This is what happens with the mining and exporting countries of oil and hydrocarbons, abundant in the Middle East and the American continent (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia).
The great economic paradox of these countries is that they export the raw material to the industrialized countries, with which they manufacture consumer goods, and then consume the processed goods back and at a higher price per unit , thus cultivating an import and dependent economy . On the other hand, the decrease in certain resources or the increasing ecological damage that the extraction of raw materials entails, makes the prices of the raw material more expensive and therefore that the markets experience instabilities that, in turn, have an impact on the relations Policies between countries that export raw materials and highly industrialized countries.
Raw material in accounting
In accounting sciences , any type of essential input to start a production or manufacturing chain is called raw material . In this sense, the accounting administration is concerned with various aspects:
- Purchase prices Since they are the base payment so that the industrial or productive process can be perpetuated over time. Without buying raw material, there is no business future.
- Inventories That is, the raw material stored or stored to face cases of delay, shortage, etc. and the costs that such storage comprises.
- The quality. Since better quality raw material guarantees final products of a similar quality, and therefore a higher price in the market.
One of the great disadvantages of the grabbing of the raw material has to do with pollution and ecological damage, which seem to be inevitable consequences of activities such as mining, logging, fishing or oil exploitation. This sustained damage to the ecosystem , added to that produced by secondary industrial transformation activities, has left its mark on the world in the form of ecosystem destruction, impoverishment of biological diversity and deterioration of human health .
Raw Material Examples
Some common examples of raw material are:
- Wood, cork, rubber and cellulose to make paper.
- Oil, coal, natural gas and other fossil fuels.
- Gold, silver, diamonds, and other precious metals.
- Uranium, Bauxite and other heavy metals.
- Ivory, silk, furs and other animal products.