David Kirkpatrick

September 2, 2010

Food for not so easy thought

Everyone thought the biggest threat from China was the sheer volume of Treasuries held by that nation and the potential stranglehold it has over the U.S. economy. Realistically that has never been a real issue because as such a heavy investor in the U.S. economy, China has a vested interest in our financial sector remaining strong.

Now squeezing us on manufacturing vital elements of computing and electronics by taking complete control over rare earth metals is a different angle of attack altogether. You know the U.S. government is taking this very seriously when it has both the energy department and the DoD on the job.

The release:

China’s monopoly on 17 key elements sets stage for supply crisis

China’s monopoly on the global supply of elements critical for production of computer hard disc drives, hybrid-electric cars, military weapons, and other key products — and its increasingly strict limits on exports — is setting the stage for a crisis in the United States. That’s the topic of the cover story of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.

C&EN Senior Editor Mitch Jacoby and Contributing Editor Jessie Jiang explain that the situation involves a family of chemical elements that may soon start to live up to their name, the “rare earths.” China has virtually cornered the global market on them, and produces most of the world’s supply. Since 2005, China has been raising prices and restricting exports, most recently in 2010, fostering a potential supply crisis in the U.S.

The article describes how the U.S. is now responding to this emerging crisis. To boost supplies, for instance, plans are being developed to resume production at the largest U.S. rare-earth mine — Mountain Pass in southern California — which has been dormant since 2002. The U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of Defense are among the government agencies grappling with the problem.

###

ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE “Securing the Supply of Rare Earths”

This story is available at http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/88/8835cover.html

23 Comments »

  1. […] I haven’t blogged well over a week — been crazy around these parts of late), but since I covered the topic earlier this month I thought it was interesting it’s already hit the front […]

    Pingback by China, already cracking the rare earth metal whip « David Kirkpatrick — September 27, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

  2. […] trade restriction — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:34 pm I blogged about this topic a couple of times last month, and now it looks like the issue is already coming to North American shores. Not exactly […]

    Pingback by Update on the rare earth mineral/China issue « David Kirkpatrick — October 20, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

  3. […] blogged about this more than once, but if you need the ultra-quick version — China supplies pretty much the entire […]

    Pingback by Rare earth mineral news « David Kirkpatrick — November 18, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

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