View Full Version : Rare Earth Elements, China and Explotation

04-15-2014, 09:38 PM
Something we've not really talked about, to date: pieces of a puzzle, innocuous on their own but when combined, can become another counter on the gameboard.

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Strategic Materials Advisory Council today strongly criticized U.S. Government – and in particular, Department of Defense (DoD) – policies that fail to address ongoing, serious concerns about the supply chain for rare earth elements. Completely disregarding concerns about the lack of diversified sources and the potential for increased supply chain vulnerabilities, a recent DoD report observes that rare earth market conditions have “significantly improved for consumers of rare earths, including suppliers within the U.S. industrial base.”


The rare-earth industry may be one step closer to reality in Wyoming.

The U.S. Forest Service recently announced it is preparing to study the environmental impact of a rare-earth mine in the Black Hills National Forest.

The agency will hold two public meetings on the planned mine, one in Sundance on Monday and another in Upton on Tuesday.

The Bear Lodge Project would be built near Sundance. The project’s proponent is Rare Element Resources, and its aim is primarily to mine elements like neodymium, praseodymium and europium.


(Reuters) - China has lost a dispute at the World Trade Organization over limits on rare earth and metals exports, handing Europe and the United States a victory over what they see as Beijing's unfair trade practices.

"Today's ruling by the WTO on rare earth shows that no one country can hoard its raw materials from the global market place at the expense of its other WTO partners," said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.


Rare earth minerals are vital to the production of smartphones, cameras, steel and hybrid cars, making the WTO ruling a significant victory for the US, EU, and Japan.

Deep sea mining advocates in Bermuda say the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone’s sea floor is rich in rare earth elements — so rich that at today’s prices the value of some substances could reach into the billions of dollars.

Nick Hutchings, who has been exploring Bermuda’s waters for mineral resources for more than a decade, explained: “The rare earth elements are in polymetalic nodules on the ocean floor at between 4,000 to 5,000 meters, and cobalt crusts on the seamounts at between 800 and 2,400 meters.

“What is very important is that China controls rare earth elements, and that they are critical for western technology and defence.

04-25-2014, 12:16 PM
A more detailed assessment:


It is important to note that "rare earths" are not particularly rare, and that China dominates the market not because it has unique reserves, but because it sold the product cheap for a long time, rendering other suppliers unprofitable. While the time required to restart old mines and bring new ones onstream is a real concern, some of the more panicked comments about Chinese control of rare earths are more than a bit exaggerated.

10-23-2014, 02:58 AM
Everyone can stop worrying now. China's grip over the world's supply of rare-earth metals has weakened considerably — and the country can't hold the global economy hostage, as was once widely feared. Or at least so argues a new paper on the topic.

Back in 2010, China produced 97 percent of the world's rare earth metals, which are used in everything from the magnets in our headphones and wind turbines to the catalysts in our gasoline refineries. That same year, China began restricting exports as part of a political dispute with Japan. The global price for rare earths skyrocketed, and there was a fair bit of alarm in the US about how China's chokehold on rare earths threatened the economy and even national security.

But the panic turned out to be overblown. In a new working paper from the Council on Foreign Relations, former Pentagon advisor Eugene Gholz explains that the much-feared crisis never actually came to pass. Not long after China restricted exports, other countries quickly began producing their own rare earths — or finding ways to reduce their reliance on the metals. As a result, China's control of the market is much diminished today.