business

China cutting rare earth output, unnerving global manufacturers

7 Comments
By Barbara Lewis and Ernest Scheyder

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HawkeyeToday 12:25 pm JST

I dont know much about rare earth minerals but are they only found in large quantities in china? If not why are we worried about China's threat.

China is the largest supplier of rare earth minerals.

They are used in almost everything with electronic components.

Like smart phones, computers, USA airforce (and other airforces) aircrafts electronics, Boeing dreamliner, europe Airbus, electric car batteries.

The U.S. military is worried about China's dominance of the rare earths market, calling it a "significant and growing risk," according to a Pentagon study released earlier this month.

Can not have more, newer advanced aircraft without rare earth and certain replacement parts for current in service aircraft can not be made without it.

If China cuts the USA off, it could have a serious impact on the USA (and other countries) military abilities in the future.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It isn't that rare earths cannot be mined outside of China, but that currently China can produce them more cheaply than anyone else. For many years, Mountain Pass in California was the planet's largest producer of rare earth metals. It shut down and was sold to a Chinese company, because it was not cost competitive.

Not discussed in the article is how much Trump's trade war has influenced the Chinese leaderships' decision to play hardball. Rare earth metals are today an absolutely essential component of any economy. Refusing to supply the US with cheap rare earth metals could be a real wake up call for the fool in the White House.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Agreed, @1glenn; there are more ways than imposing counteracting (and counter-productive) tariffs to fight a trade war.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

China is the largest supplier of rare earth minerals.

And buyers have had at least 10 years to find alternative sources since China suddenly cut supplies to Japan during the island dispute.

China is the cheapest source, but is also an unreliable source, and has been for some time. If it's a national security concern, as the military says, then why do they continue to rely on China alone without developing other sources?

The slight savings from buying "cheaper" Chinese rare earth metals goes right out the window when they disrupt the supply. It probably will end up costing significantly more if one factors all that in.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

According to this (kinda old) infographic http://business.inquirer.net/files/2012/08/rare-earths.jpg;

China has less than 50% of the world's rare earth reserves, but they are the overwhelming producer, with more than 95% of the global share for the past decade http://www.beachminerals.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/rare-earth-elements-production-history.jpg

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I dont know much about rare earth minerals but are they only found in large quantities in china? If not why are we worried about China's threat.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Australia should seek to block majority foreign ownership of what deposits exist and restrict partners to Western allies and non Western strategic allies, like Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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