Rare Earth Metals

Discussion in 'Strategic Forces' started by LETHALFORCE, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/12/27

    Approval secured to restart operations, which could be crucial in challenging China's stranglehold on the market

    by Suzanne Goldenberg

    It's a deep pit in the Mojave desert. But it could hold the key to America challenging China's technological domination of the 21st century.

    [The site of the rare earth metals mine in the Mojave desert. (Photograph: Barry Sweet/Polaris)]The site of the rare earth metals mine in the Mojave desert. (Photograph: Barry Sweet/Polaris)
    At the bottom of the vast site, beneath 6 metres (20ft) of bright emerald-green water, runs a rich seam of ores that are hardly household names but are rapidly emerging as the building blocks of the hi-tech future.

    The mine is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements outside China. Eight years ago, it was shut down in a tacit admission that the US was ceding the market to China. Now, the owners have secured final approval to restart operations, and hope to begin production soon.

    "We will probably never be the largest [mine] in the world again. It will be hard to overcome China's status in that regard, but we do think we will be a very significant supplier," Mark Smith, chief executive of Molycorp Minerals which owns the mine, told reporters during a tour of the site.

    So far as the Obama administration is concerned, the mine can't open soon enough. A US department of energy report warned on 15 December that, in the absence of mines such as this one, America risks losing control over the production of a host of technologies, from smart phones to smart bombs, electric car batteries to wind turbines, because of a virtual Chinese monopoly on the rare earth metals essential to their production.

    China controls 97% of global rare earth metals production. Such total domination of a strategic resource became impossible to ignore in October when China cut exports of rare earth elements by more than 70% over the previous year, disrupting manufacturing in Japan, Europe and the US. Prices of even the cheapest of the 17 rare earth elements rose 40%.

    Now America, like Japan and Europe, is desperate to find alternatives. "Reopening domestic production is an important part of a globalised supply chain," David Sandalow, the energy department's assistant secretary for international affairs told a seminar in Washington.

    For Smith, the official recognition of the strategic importance of the metals was a long time coming. "I've been going out to Washington DC every other week for about two years trying to tell the rare earths story," he said.

    They are listening in Washington now. At the 15 December seminar at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, one PowerPoint presentation lingered on a slide that showed only the Chinese flag. The room filled with nervous laughter.

    By 2015, global demand for rare earths is expected to reach 205,000 tonnes. "If we don't get alternative supplies up and running we are going to have this supply gap that is going to cause a lot of issues," Smith said.

    Those issues forced their way onto the government's agenda this autumn when China began squeezing raw material exports of rare earth minerals.

    Some US media reports have speculated China is trying to use its control over the supply lines for political leverage. But a number of analysts say China is trying to get better control over an expensive, dirty and dangerous mining process, and to get more factories to set up shop inside the country.

    Rare earths are extracted through opencast mining and generate radioactive waste.

    "I don't believe that China is trying to chop the west off at the knees but it has a growing internal market that is driving the demand," said Gareth Hatch, an analyst at Technology Metal Research. "That reduces the amount they are willing to export." That is where Molycorp – the frontrunner for now in a global race to develop alternative production of rare earth materials – hopes to step in.

    Since going public last July, the company has raised more than $500m (£323m) to expand its production facilities at Mountain Pass, a collection of rusting buildings that date from the 1950s. This month, Sumitomo Corp of Japan invested $130m in return for guaranteed supplies of rare earths for the next seven years. The company has also applied for department of energy loans.

    By mid-2012, Molycorp aims to produce 20,000 tonnes a year of nine of the 17 rare earths or about 25% of current western imports from China. Smith suggested the company could possibly ramp up production to 40,000 tonnes within the next 18 months. He says Molycorp has exposed just 55 acres of the 2,200 acre site.

    But even production on that scale may not be enough to guarantee the supply of metals needed to move to a clean energy economy: lanthanum for batteries for hybrid cars, neodymium for the permanent magnets for wind turbines, especially offshore, europium for energy efficient lighting.

    "You would need seven mines the size of Molycorp's just to meet the demand for wind turbines and that would mean no neodymium for motors or any other applications," said Jim Hedrick, who until last year was the rare earth expert at the US Geological Survey.

    "Obviously there is a demand for 10 or 20 mines through the world to meet all the different demands for these products."

    Some companies, such as General Electric, are already moving to reduce their use of rare earths. "What we are going to absolutely have to do is diversify our sources and optimise the use of these materials in manufacturing," said Steve Duclos, who heads GE's global research division.

    In Japan, meanwhile, Hitachi has started a recycling effort to recover rare earths from hard drives and other materials.

    Aside from raw materials, it is also unclear whether the US still has the expertise for the complicated process of turning minerals into usable clean tech components.

    Such challenges were unthinkable half-a-century ago when prospectors looking for uranium stumbled instead on a rich deposit of rare earths about an hour's drive from Las Vegas.

    By the 1960s, the mine was booming, largely through sales of europium, used to produce the bright red tones of colour televisions.

    But prices fell as China came on the market, with its low production costs. A pipeline accident in the late 1990s, which leaked radioactive fluid into the desert and a nearby town, led to an expensive clean-up.

    The mine closed in 2002. The central pit in the 55-acre site became a pool of bright green water. White bales of minerals – some mined eight years ago – were stockpiled until such time as prices would rise.

    This time around, however, Molycorp claims it has a fighting chance against China, especially if it is able to meet its goal of complete mines-to-magnet processing at the Mountain Pass facility.

    The company is also confident it can head off competition from a slew of new mines due to begin coming online from Australia, Wyoming, Quebec and South Africa. "The growth in demand for these minerals is just phenomenal," Smith said. "A 6% average growth rate for us would be very, very good but when you start adding things like hybrid vehicles and wind turbines to the rare earth sectors now you are talking about double digit growth, and you still don't know where that will end."

    At this point, though, Molycorp is not even at the beginning. "The road to the green world of the future starts from the black earth. But first you have to get the materials out of the ground," said Hatch. "The whole clean-tech energy industry is hinging on it."

    The "rare earth elements" are a group of 17 naturally occurring metallic elements used in small amounts in everything from high-powered magnets to batteries and electronic circuits. The materials (including scandium, yttrium and a group of elements called the lanthanides) have chemical and physical properties that make them useful in improving the performance of computer hard drives and catalytic converters, mobile phones, hi-tech televisions, sunglasses and lasers.

    With global demand for hi-tech goods increasing the market for rare earth elements has doubled in the past decade.

    Despite their name, rare earth elements are not actually all that rare, but China has a near-monopoly on mining the elements. In a report on the elements published this year, the British Geological Survey put their natural abundance on the same level as copper or lead.

    According to the BGS China has 37% of the world's estimated reserves, about 36m tonnes, but controls more than 97% of production. The former Soviet bloc has around 19m tonnes and the US 13m, with other large deposits held by Australia, India, Brazil and Malaysia.

    Other sources, untapped as yet, include Greenland. Estimates suggest the land mass could meet 25% of global demand for REEs. South Africa also has potential for rich REE deposits, as do Malawi, Madagascar and Kenya.
     
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  3. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/u...-technology-of-the-future-20101231-19bz7.html

    US digs deep to secure the technology of the future

    MOUNTAIN PASS MINE, California: It's a deep pit in the Mojave Desert but it could hold the key to the US challenging China's technological domination of the 21st century.

    At the bottom of the vast site, beneath six metres of bright emerald-green water, runs a rich seam of ores that are hardly household names but are rapidly emerging as the building blocks of the high-tech future.

    The mine is the largest known deposit of rare-earth elements outside China. Eight years ago, it was closed in a tacit admission the US was ceding the market to China. Now the owners have secured final approval to restart operations and hope to begin production soon.
    Advertisement: Story continues below

    ''We will probably never be the largest [mine] in the world again,'' Mark Smith, chief executive of Molycorp Minerals, which owns the mine, said. ''It will be hard to overcome China's status in that regard, but we do think we will be a very significant supplier.''

    As far as the US Government is concerned, the mine cannot open soon enough. A Department of Energy report warned on December 15 that, in the absence of mines such as this one, the US risks losing control over the production of a host of technologies, from smart phones to smart bombs, electric car batteries to wind turbines, because China has a virtual monopoly on the rare-earth metals essential to their production.

    China controls 97 per cent of global rare-earth metals production. Such total domination of a strategic resource became impossible to ignore in October when China cut exports of rare-earth elements by more than 70 per cent compared with the previous year, disrupting manufacturing in Japan, Europe and the US.

    Prices of even the cheapest of the 17 rare-earth elements rose by 40 per cent. Exports will be cut a further 11 per cent in the first half of this year.

    Now the US, like Japan and Europe, is desperate to find alternatives. ''Reopening domestic production is an important part of a globalised supply chain,'' the Energy Department's assistant secretary for international affairs, David Sandalow, told a seminar in Washington.

    For Mr Smith, the official recognition of the strategic importance of the metals was a long time coming. ''I've been going out to Washington DC every other week for about two years trying to tell the rare-earths story,'' he said.

    They are listening in Washington now.

    By 2015, global demand for rare-earth elements is expected to reach 205,000 tonnes. ''If we don't get alternative supplies up and running we are going to have this supply gap that is going to cause a lot of issues,'' Mr Smith said.

    Some US media reports have speculated China is trying to use its control over the supply lines for political leverage. However, a number of analysts say China is trying to get better control over an expensive, dirty and dangerous mining process, and to get more factories to set up shop inside the country.

    Rare-earth elements are extracted by opencast mining and generate radioactive waste.

    ''I don't believe that China is trying to chop the West off at the knees but it has a growing internal market that is driving the demand,'' Gareth Hatch, an analyst at Technology Metal Research, said. ''That reduces the amount they are willing to export.''

    That is where Molycorp, the present frontrunner in a global race to develop alternative production of rare-earth materials, hopes to step in.

    By mid-2012, Molycorp aims to produce 20,000 tonnes a year of nine of the 17 rare-earth elements, or about 25 per cent of current Western imports from China. Mr Smith suggested the company could possibly increase production to 40,000 tonnes within 18 months.

    Even production on that scale may not be enough to guarantee the supply of metals needed to move to a clean-energy economy: lanthanum for batteries for hybrid cars; neodymium for the permanent magnets for wind turbines, especially offshore; europium for energy-efficient lighting. ''You would need seven mines the size of Molycorp's just to meet the demand for wind turbines and that would mean no neodymium for motors or any other applications,'' Jim Hedrick, who until last year was the rare-earth expert at the US Geological Survey, said.

    The Mountain Pass mine closed in 2002 due to competition from China. This time Molycorp says it has a fighting chance against China.

    The company is also confident it can head off competition from new mines due to begin opening in Australia, the US, Canada and South Africa, but the future is far from clear.

    ''The road to the green world of the future starts from the black earth, but first you have to get the materials out of the ground,'' Gareth Hatch, an analyst at Technology Metal Research, said.

    ''The whole clean-tech energy industry is hinging on it.''
     
  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    cross posted

    http://www.newkerala.com/news/world/fullnews-101025.html

    Toyota to establish rare earth plant in India


    Tokyo, Dec 9 : A Toyota Motor group company is to build a rare earth processing plant in India to secure supply sources outside China, the Japanese company
    has said.

    Japanese trading house Toyota Tsusho Corp said in a statement Wednesday that it would start to export to Japan in 2012 about 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of rare-earth minerals annually.

    Rare-earth minerals are used to produce hybrid cars, mobile phones and other high-tech products.

    The company is to start building the plant in India's Orissa state at the beginning of 2011 and to launch production by the end of the year, in collaboration with Japan's Shin-Etsu Chemical Co and Indian Rare Earths Ltd, a subsidiary of the state-controlled Nuclear Power Corp of India.

    Shin-Etsu Chemical is expected to provide technical support and to engage in product trading with the rare earths plant.

    Toyota Tsusho, which said the company had surveyed the rare earth resource potential throughout the world, is also developing the minerals in Vietnam.

    With the two plants, the company will be able to supply around 10,000 tonnes of rare earths a year in 2013, roughly one-third of Japan's total demand, an unnamed company official was quoted by Kyodo News as saying.

    China suspended shipments of rare-earth minerals to Japan in early September in an apparent protest at Japan's arrest of a Chinese captain whose fishing boat collided with Japanese Coast Guard vessels off a disputed set of islets in the East China Sea.
     
  5. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69Q1V320101027

    India aims for 2011 rare earth exports

    (Reuters) - India aims to restart production of rare earths late next year for the first time since 2004, a top government official said on Wednesday.

    The Indian government is spending 1.4 billion rupees ($32 million) on a 5,000 metric ton capacity plant in Orissa, amid global concerns China may be taking advantage of its dominance of resources to squeeze export supply.

    R.N. Patra, chairman and managing director of state-run Indian Rare Earths Limited, told Reuters his firm has environmental clearance to produce the hi-tech minerals at a plant under construction in eastern state Orissa.

    "India had stopped producing rare earths in 2004 due to lack of market competitiveness, but now we have improved in-house technology to be more competitive," Patra told Reuters.

    "Going by our domestic demand there should be enough for exports," he said.

    A major consuming market is Japan, where Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan agreed this week to cooperate on minerals and metals.

    The near-monopoly China has in producing 97 percent of the world's supply of rare earths has long been known among industrial users, but it came under the international spotlight after reports Beijing halted shipments to Japan over a territorial dispute with Tokyo last month.

    China also rocked the hi-tech industry and boosted metals prices in July when it announced it would reduce export quotas for rare earth minerals by 72 percent for the second half of 2010, extending a trend of cutting rare earth exports since 2008.

    India and Japan are also trying to agree a civilian nuclear deal which will allow the use of Japanese technology and investment in developing India's nuclear power sector.

    "Demand for rare earths is mostly in developed countries such as the United States, Japan, Europe and Canada. There is great demand in Canada," Patra said.

    "Indian domestic demand was about 200 (metric) tons a year in 2004. That may have gone up somewhat but we still think we will have a lot to export," he said.

    Rare earths can be used for both civilian and military purposes, including in nuclear applications.

    Beijing has denied any plans to choke off shipments of the minerals. Chinese state media have criticized foreigners for making "unreasonable" demands on resources China needs for its own industrial development.
     
  6. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://babybulltwits.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/india-to-gain-from-chinas-rare-earth-standoff/

    India to Gain from China’s Rare Earth Standoff

    MUMBAI - India suddenly finds itself in direct competition with China in the least expected of arenas – the supply of rare earth (RE) metals. India, which contributes 2% of the global output of rare earths, has been in the headlines for some months now vis-a-vis the precious commodity.

    The catalyst has been the tension between China, the world’s largest producer of RE, and Japan, which sparked off in October this year. The situation has made Japan turn to an unlikely ally in its hour of crisis, India, among other friends.

    On December 8, Toyota Tsusho Corp, a Toyota Motor Corp group company, announced that it would build a rare earth processing plant in India and start shipping 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes a year of the mineral to Japan as early as 2012.

    A worried Japan, producer of some of the world’s leading edge technological wonders that heavily rely on REs, was given a rude wake up call by China recently.

    The latter, according to media reports, decided to slash exports of the metals to Japan, as a fallout of the October `incident’ in which a Chinese fishing boat captain, who had strayed into Japanese waters, was detained by Japanese authorities.

    Though denied by China, the move led to an almost immediate spike in the price of REs, besides starting a race among leading Japanese companies – the world’s biggest users of rare earths – to find other sources of supply.

    Each of them is trying a different tack.: While trading houses like Sojitz Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation are contemplating investing in mines outside China, Hitachi said that it would recycle 10% of its needs by 2013.

    Hitachi officials were quoted as saying that they needed a steady supply of these materials and recycling would become part of the supply chain. Japanese efforts also included seeking help from the Canadians.

    But that is the Japanese end of the story. The India RE story has taken a new twist because of the series of events sparked off by the boat incident in the not-so-distant Yellow Sea.

    India had last increased its production of rare earths in 1995, from 2,500 tonnes to 2,700 tonnes. At present, India may be contributing just over 2% to the overall global production of RE, way below China’s contribution of approximately 96%, but that still leaves it at the number 3 slot.

    China’s reserves of rare earths is about 36% of the total global reserves. It is also nearly three times that of the US.

    The China-Japan imbroglio could not have been timed better where India is concerned. Just before it happened, the Indian Government was anyway contemplating a plan to triple its rare earths production from 2,700 tonne to 7,700 tonnes by the end of 2011.

    This was publicly stated by R N Patra, chairman of Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IREL), a state-run firm, recently. India sensed a business opportunity in the growing tensions over rare earth supplies between nations, more so between China and the rest of the world, and this was the primary reason for it to form a new national, multi-pronged strategy on RE: to not only ramp up domestic production but also to actively think of allowing Indian Public Sector units (PSUs) to participate in joint ventures with foreign companies.

    Now, with Japanese companies waiting in the wings, India has a ready-made buyer for its RE supply (not that there was a dearth of buyers to begin with).

    Like China uses its RE supply often as a political tool, India, too, can use it to counter China. India’s stated position is that it would not like any single country to monopolise the RE supply, a line not very different from that taken by developed countries like the US and Canada.

    In fact, India was quick to seize upon the evolving situation between China and Japan. During his Japan visit this October just after the fishing boat episode, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed a deal to supply rare earths to Japan, firing the second salvo in “the war of resources”, as dubbed by RE analysts.

    On their part, developed nations, because of the obvious lack of RE in the rest of the world, have shown willingness to forge a partnership with India on the RE front. For obvious political reasons, they are more inclined to develop a long term relationship with India, rather than the `unpredictable’ China.

    With 3.1 million tonnes of rare earths reserves in India, the question uppermost on everybody’s mind now obviously is – can India face up to China?

    The answer perhaps lies in the new RE policy that the Indian Govt is contemplating, followed up by its execution. Participation by private players is something that India is looking at in joint ventures, though as minority players.
    Besides, India needs to seriously look at the inclusion of foreign partners in the processing and refining of RE, though it may stick to its policy of not allowing them to take part in the actual extraction of rare earths.

    As a first step in the new policy setup, the state-run IREL has announced plans to restart exports of rare earths next year, the first time since 2004, after the ministry of environment and forests recently gave clearances to start work on its 5,000 tonne capacity plant in the Indian State of Odisha.

    The estimated investment is Rs 1.4 billion (USD 31 million) for a 10,000 tonne per annum monazite processing plant that will produce 5,000 tonne REO (rare earth oxides) at Orissa Sands Complex, near Gopalpur in Orissa.

    The plant could triple India’s output of rare earths. The company was forced to shut down its processing facility at Aluva in Kochi in 2004 due to lack of market competitiveness.

    Before it had shut down in 2004, IREL had produced 1,500 tonnes of rare earths, of which about 1,300 tonnes was exported, mostly to developed countries such as the US, Japan, Europe and Canada. The country’s domestic demand at that time was 200 tonnes in 2004.

    Other Indian States of Kerala, Orissa and Tamil Nadu account for nearly 95% of India’s production of rare earths. Besides IREL, PSUs like Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML) and Travancore Titanium Products Ltd (TTPL), are the leading state players in rare earths production.

    Others in the private sector are Cochin Minerals and Rutile Ltd (CMRL), which produces synthetic rutile and ferric chloride, and Chennai-based Beach Minerals Co. Pvt. Ltd and V.B. Minerals and Resins Pvt. Ltd.

    Thus, if India plays its cards right, 2011 could be a watershed year for India in the supply of rare earths.
     
  7. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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  8. LETHALFORCE

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  9. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/features/science/T101230003933.htm


    Japan creates 1st artificial rare metal

    In a world first, Japanese researchers have produced a new alloy similar to the rare metal palladium, a breakthrough that could help alleviate the nation's dependence on other countries for this resource.

    The alloy was produced with nanotechnology and has properties similar to those of palladium, a rare metal located between rhodium and silver on the periodic table of the elements.

    Led by Prof. Hiroshi Kitagawa of Kyoto University, the research team also produced alternatives to other kinds of rare metals.

    Rhodium and silver molecules usually do not mingle, and remain separated like oil and water even after melting at high temperatures. To mix the elements, Kitagawa focused on a technique that produces ultramicroscopic metal particles.

    His team created a solution containing equal quantities of rhodium and silver, turned the solution into a mist and mixed it little by little with heated alcohol to produce particles of the new alloy. Each particle is 10 nanometers in diameter and atoms of the two metals are equally mixed.

    The new alloy has the same properties as palladium, which is used as a catalyzer to cleanse exhaust gas and absorbs large quantities of hydrogen, the researchers said.

    Rhodium, palladium and silver have 45, 46 and 47 electrons, respectively, numbers that determine their chemical characterizations.

    "The orbits of the electrons in the rhodium and silver atoms probably got jumbled up and formed the same orbits as those of palladium," Kitagawa said.

    The new alloy will be difficult to produce commercially, but Kitagawa intends to use the production method to develop other alloys for use as alternative rare metals.

    Kitagawa has begun joint research with automakers and other companies, but said he could not disclose any information because of patents and other reasons.

    Rare metals exist only in small quantities and are economically difficult to mine or extract. Because adding just a small quantity of rare metals can change or improve the properties of other materials, rare metals are called the "vitamins" of industry.

    For example, palladium is essential for making electronic parts, and lithium is used to produce batteries.
     
  10. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    I think India should use this opportunity to the fullest . Nothing comes free in this world and specially Rare earth metals . We should try to gain maximum leverage for export of Rare earth metals. We should force Japan to help us with developing semiconductor industry in return for rare earth metals . This something we shouldn't give anyone for free.
     
  11. sky

    sky Regular Member

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    I think the GOI should ban the export of rare earth metal's,but encourage fdi in hi tech manufacturing by promising to supply rare earth metal's to those that set up shop in India. I've read A J KALAM'S books and he writes how India need's to add value to gain a brighter future.

    For example rather then sell cotton abroad,use the cotton to make clothes then export the finished good's.
    Rather then sell our limited stock's of iron ore to china,keep them for our own steel industry ,so they can export the finished good's that they go to make.

    It's only by adding value to the process that real money can be made, so India need's to gain maximum benefit out of it's RE'S....
     
    Dark Sorrow likes this.
  12. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://business.financialpost.com/2010/07/13/india-considers-iron-export-ban/

    India considers banning rare earth exports

    The Indian government may stop all mining companies operating inside India from selling iron ore abroad.

    “It will be good to completely ban iron ore exports as these are non-renewable resources,” Atul Chaturvedi, secretary for India’s steel ministry, told the Financial Times on Monday. “Once you exhaust them, you won’t get them [again].”

    New Delhi already imposes export taxes on iron ore. Mr. Chaturvedi also told FT the government may go even farther, to the point of banning coal and oil exports as well.

    The news comes just days after neighbouring China announced a plan to cut rare earth export quotas by 72%, further deepening fears of a supply shortage among ore-importing countries. Protectionist measures are a growing trend in the region, whereby many national governments have begun imposing export restrictions on large commodity producers.

    China has been increasingly harbouring rare earth metals for some time now. Australia almost passed a heavy mining tax recently, and Russia introduced plans to increase its already-massive natural resource export tax two weeks ago.

    India is also considering new mining legislation that will force mining companies to share profits with local communities where mines are located. The goal of the new legislation, and of the current round of protectionist measures in general, is to encourage much-needed local infrastructure development. Many countries imposing such measures, India in particular, have previously sacrificed domestic growth in order to offer a more competitive market for international business investment.

    Part of the reason for India’s proposed ban is likely due to concerns over Chinese imports of Indian ore product. The two Asian economic superpowers have been rivals in the rare earth export industry for many years.

    China has long been the world’s largest producer of steel by far. India is the world’s third-largest producer of steel products.

    Further restricting the supply of iron ore is likely to significantly raise the price of rare earth metals on the world market, causing western countries to seek out new sources. Two key new sources of rare earth metals are in Canada, Financial Post mining correspondent Peter Koven reported on Monday.


    Read more: http://business.financialpost.com/2010/07/13/india-considers-iron-export-ban/#ixzz19jlnzD2p
     
  13. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.cacheexploration.com/inv...rth-ore-production-india-in-second-place.html

    China domination of Rare Earth Ore production - India in second place

    China's 'Rare Earth' Monopoly

    As troubling as China’s growing economic power over the United States is – the leverage it has over policy because of the credit it extends to us – its monopoly on rare earth elements may be even more so.

    China accounts for 97% of global production of “rare earth” elements --lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, europium and yttrium -- which are vital for a wide range of technologies like iPhones, wind turbines and X-ray machines and military applications like precision-guided munitions and lasers. If it chose to cut off our supplies of these elements, our ability to produce many of these weapon systems and widely used civilian technologies would end abruptly.

    In 1997, Deng Xiaoping, then China’s Communist Party leader, observed that the Mideast may have oil, but China had rare earth elements. With a virtual monopoly of the critical materials, China could control the rare earth market much as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries controls oil.

    During the 1990s, China put rare earth competitors out of business by flooding the market with cheap materials which led to the closure of America’s only rare earth mine. Some American businesses that relied on rare earth materials moved to China to remain competitive. Now China has switched tactics to maintain its monopoly.

    Last year Beijing announced radical cuts in rare earth exports - down to 25% from 75% - which will accomplish two things. It will drive up the costs of all high-tech products which include rare earth materials thus giving China’s high-tech industries a significant competitive advantage and force foreign competitors to move their high-tech factories and research centers to China to circumvent quotas.

    Last week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) exposed China’s rare earth monopoly, the stark facts about America’s dangerous dependence on China for rare earth elements, and the bleak forecast to fix the problem. The GAO report indicates the U.S. produced no rare earth elements in 2009 and it could take up to 15 years to rebuild our rare earth supply chain.

    Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) is understandably alarmed by this bleak assessment. “We need to move aggressively on this issue now before it’s too late,” Coffman said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. But it is already too late to prevent the problem from getting worse.

    “Time is of the essence because the situation is going to get worse” as China’s domestic consumption of the material rises, said Dan Slane, chairman of the Washington-based U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Slane says fixing the problem will require “enormous investment and time.” But he warns few capitalists will invest in rare earth mines and processing facilities because there’s a good chance China will retaliate.

    Yoichi Sato, head of the rare earth division of Mitsui, one of Japan’s largest corporate conglomerates, said China will use its existing monopoly to crush any competition that emerges. “If new projects emerge, as they have recently in Malaysia and Australia, China just drops its prices and forces rivals out of business,” Sato said.

    China aggressively buys out potential competition as well. Last year, two Australian mines, with a combined potential production equal to a quarter of global output of rare earth materials, were expected to open. But they lost their financing and Chinese government-owned mining companies bought a controlling share of one and a quarter of the other.

    In 2005, China National Offshore Oil Corporation tried to buy America’s only rare earth mine at Mountain Pass, Calif., but lost out to Chevron. Chinese buyers tried to persuade Chevron to sell the mine in 2007 but Chevron sold it to Molycorp Minerals LLC, a private American group.

    Mountain Pass closed in 1998 due to regulatory problems with wastewater and Chinese competition but reopened in 2007. But the mine won’t begin producing four of the 17 rare earth elements until 2012 at the earliest.

    China controls more than a third of the world’s known rare earth reserves and the U.S. has 13%. Deposits are also found in Australia, Greenland and Canada but these countries produced no material last year. In 2009, India, which was second to China in rare earth ore production, produced 2,700 tons compared to China’s whopping 120,000 tons.

    It would be helpful to find substitutes for rare earth elements but that won’t be easy. The GAO indicates the rare earth materials used in defense systems “are responsible for the functionality of the component and would be difficult to replace without losing performance.” For example, “fin actuators used in precision-guided munitions are specifically designed around the capabilities of neodymium iron boron rare earth magnets.” Besides, we will continue to use these materials in the future based on their life cycles for equipment like Lockheed Martin’s Aegis SPY-1 radar, which uses rare earth element samarium cobalt magnet components.

    It’s absurd that our Defense Department can’t tell how dependent it is on rare earth elements. According to the GAO, the Pentagon just started assessing its dependency on rare earth elements and the results of that study are due in September.

    The GAO report provides a short list of defense systems that include rare earth material such as communication systems, avionics and satellites. Even off-the-shelf products in defense systems include rare earth materials, such as computer hard drives. Subcontractors rely on the materials to produce items like electric motors to drive ships and the reference and navigation system in the M1A2 Abrams tank.

    So what should America do to reduce its dangerous dependence on the monopolistic Communist Chinese?

    First, the Mountain Pass facility must be quickly returned to full production. But that facility lacks the manufacturing assets and facilities to process rare earth ore into finished components, such as permanent magnets.

    The federal government should provide Molycorp Minerals LLC, the Mountain Pass owner, help in overcoming regulatory issues, raising capital and protecting it from Chinese government market manipulation. The company should also be encouraged to produce finished components rather than force American businesses to rely on Chinese factories.

    Second, Mountain Pass does not have substantial amounts of heavy rare earth elements such as dysprosium, which is used for heat-resistance qualities of permanent magnets in defense systems. That’s why other U.S. rare earth sites such as those in Idaho and Montana must be developed, which the GAO admits could take 7 to 15 years to bring fully online. We should also work with allies like Canada and Australia to develop their mines.

    Third, processing facilities may require new technologies, permissions to use existing technology patents and environmental solutions. Government must work with private industry to overcome these challenges.

    Industry officials told the GAO it would take two to five years to develop a pilot processing plant but they won’t start production without a consistent source of oxides from outside of China. Then government must work with the processing plant operators to harness the best technologies – some which require cooperation from international patent owners – and to satisfy the environmental concerns while expeditiously moving forward.

    Finally, rare earth materials are so important to our high-tech way of life that tough economic sanctions and tariffs against China are warranted to compel Beijing to cooperate.

    The U.S. and the European Union called on the World Trade Organization to intervene in China’s export restrictions on vital rare earth metals. China called the complaint “ridiculous and unacceptable” and refused to reduce export tariffs and raise quotas. That’s why the U.S. should respond with in-kind economic sanctions until China lifts restrictions.

    This crisis won’t correct itself through market forces alone and the Rare Earth Wars could become a reality. This is an excellent example of the rare occasion in which, for national defense and economic security reasons, the U.S. government must step-in to help private industry. Rebuilding our rare earth supply system and protecting private industry from Beijing’s abusive trade policies must be a national priority.

    GUYUN VILLAGE, China — Some of the greenest technologies of the age, from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to very large wind turbines, are made possible by an unusual group of elements called rare earths. The world’s dependence on these substances is rising fast.

    Just one problem: These elements come almost entirely from China, from some of the most environmentally damaging mines in the country, in an industry dominated by criminal gangs.

    Western capitals have suddenly grown worried over China’s near monopoly, which gives it a potential stranglehold on technologies of the future.

    In Washington, Congress is fretting about the United States military’s dependence on Chinese rare earths, and has just ordered a study of potential alternatives.

    ...
     
  14. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.commodityonline.com/news/India-assures-rare-earth-supply-to-Japan-32943-3-1.html

    India assures rare earth supply to Japan


    TOKYO (Commodity Online) : Rare earths starved Japan received a much needed relief Tuesday after India’s assurance of stable supply of rare earth minerals after a spat with key provider China.

    India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who wound up his three-day visit to Japan Tuesday, made the pledge during talks with the Japanese side.

    Why chana prices continue to be bearish? Get to understand India’s pulses market with Commodity Online Info Service

    Singh met Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Ohata and other Japanese officials and agreed to broadly cooperate in rare earth deals.

    In a statement, the premiers "decided to explore the possibility of bilateral cooperation in development, recycling and re-use of rare earths and rare metals and in research and development of their industrial substitutes."

    Japan's stockpile of rare earth minerals, used in the manufacture of high-tech goods, could be exhausted by March or April without fresh imports from China.

    China, which controls more than 95 per cent of the global market, has repeatedly denied it curbed exports in retaliation over the dispute, but all 31 Japanese companies handling the minerals have reported disruption to shipments.


    Why are we giving RE to Japan when they are being an obstacle in the nuke deal with USA??
     
  15. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/01/business/global/01minerals.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2
     
  16. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/425/1/Rare-earth-metal-recycling.html

    Rare earth metal recycling


    The importance of recycling rare earth metals and minerals
    "Rare earth" doesn't mean a patch of soil that's endangered as such. It refers to a series of metallic elements that while plentiful, are difficult to find in commercially viable quantities. The elements include:

    Scandium
    Yttrium
    Lanthanum
    Cerium
    Praseodymium
    Neodymium
    Promethium
    Samarium
    Europium
    Gadolinium
    Terbium
    Dysprosium
    Holmium
    Erbium
    Thulium
    Ytterbium
    Lutetium

    Compounds of these elements are known as rare earth minerals.

    To give you an idea of how little of some of these metals are extracted, less than 22 pounds of Scandium as a metal is produced annually - globally. Compare that to gold at 2,260 tonnes in 2008 and even diamond production, which is around 26 tons a year. Scandium is an extreme example however.

    The extraction of these metals not only requires a lot of ore (meaning land degradation and massive amounts of energy consumption), but usually involves toxic acids that are particularly harsh on the environment. Additionally, some of these rare earth metals are commonly found along with radioactive materials such as uranium.

    Rare earth metal applications

    Rare earth metals are used in many electronic and electrical devices - even some products that have a relatively short life-span, such as plasma TV's.

    There's also an unfortunate "green" connection as these metals are often used in electric motors, low energy light bulbs, solar panels and wind turbines. While very small quantities are used in these products and a quality solar panel has a life-span of 25 years or more, it all adds up; particularly with the renewable energy revolution starting to really kick in.

    Supply crunch

    Environmental issues aside, an additional threat looms. It seems we're heading for a supply crunch - as early as next year. Resource shortages have this horrible tendency to become quite nasty, resulting in risky and environmentally catastrophic mining practices and wars.

    With so many devices needing these metals and yet so few sources; the race is on to find more deposits, alternatives and thankfully, there is now more of a focus on reclaiming rare earth metals.

    Rare earth metal recycling - urban mining

    The recycling of rare earth metals is in its infancy - only around 1% is currently reclaimed. However, some companies have seen the writing on the wall and are making solid inroads in setting up recycling operations, including Hitachi; who have set up a line to separate and collect rare earth magnets from computer hard drives and compressors.

    The rare earth issue is another reason we need to recycle our electronic equipment rather than sending it to landfill. While the air conditioner we drop off for recycling may not be harvested for its rare earth metals just yet; that day may be just around the corner - so it's good to get in the habit now.

    Solar panel recycling efforts are also well under way. While today's solar panels should still be cranking out clean electricity courtesy of the sun decades from now, it's nice to know they won't wind up in landfill once their serviceable life is over. Rare metals aside, over 90% of the materials making up a solar panel's weight can be recycled.
     
    pmaitra likes this.
  17. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://blogs.forbes.com/energysourc...f-rare-earth-metals-exacerbated-by-smuggling/

    Shortage Of Rare Earth Metals Exacerbated By Smuggling

    Rare earth (RE) metals find application in a massive range of devices including wind turbines, hybrid and electric cars, LCDs, fuel cells, nuclear reactors and lasers. China controls some 97% of the world supply of REs, and in July announced a 72% reduction in exports of REs for the second half of 2010, compared with the previous year. It is predicted that in 2012, Chinese domestic consumption of REs will match domestic production, and this year will see a peak in availability and a demand-supply gap emerging on the world markets.

    REs are not lacking in the earth’s crust, for example cerium ranks as the 25th most abundant element at 68 parts per million, in fact similar in concentration to copper. There are however few economically concentrated ores of the metals and their very similar chemical properties make the separation and isolation of individual REs in pure form difficult and expensive.

    While China attempts to maintain its dominance of the world markets for these metals, the scarcity of REs is compounded by smuggling. As much as 20,000 tonnes, or one third of total exports of REs were smuggled out of China, which both reduces the price of the metals and ensures the more voracious depletion of the resource. Some observers say China’s export quota reductions were designed to help the government gain control over rogue producers.

    Previously I wrote about the British focus on wind-power to meet its renewable energy targets for the European Union, by 2020. I commented that the rate of progress in building the required more than 4,000 new wind turbines had been rather slow to date, and now it appears debatable that there will be sufficient neodymium with which to fabricate the magnets for them, even if the manufacturing could be sped up.

    China has been making strenuous actions to buy mines of RE ore around the world, to maintain its dominance of the global markets, and I wonder whether this will extend to Greenland, where the melting ice-sheet is likely to ease access to the rich veins of REs and other elements that the world needs to maintain its technologies and energy supplies.
     
  18. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-...ed-to-some-rare-alliances-20101229-19a8k.html

    The mineral scramble that led to some rare alliances


    SOUTH KOREA has struck a deal with Burma to develop its natural resources in the latest bid by industrialised nations to secure new sources of rare earth metals to beat China's near-monopoly.

    The minerals are vital for numerous high-tech products, including smartphones, hybrid car batteries, computer discs and guided missiles.

    Most countries have had supplies squeezed as China, the producer of 97 per cent of the world's rare earth elements, restricted exports this year.
    Advertisement: Story continues below

    China said this week it would cut exports by a further 11 per cent in the first few months of next year.

    That South Korea should be doing business with a pariah state such as Burma is a measure of the panic export restrictions have created among big producers of electronic goods. In September Beijing halted supplies to Japan, which takes 60 per cent of its rare earth exports, after a diplomatic spat over the arrest of a fishing boat captain in disputed Japanese waters.

    Concern that stockpiles of rare earth minerals could run out by March prompted Tokyo to explore a deal with Vietnam to mine the metals. Beijing denied any official ban on exports to Japan, but figures show it cut export quotas by 72 per cent in the second half of the year. Prices increased sharply.

    This spurred the US to reopen rare earth mines. A Californian mine, closed in 2002 due to environmental concerns and low prices, has recently reopened but will take two years to reach full production.

    Chen Jiazuo, a metals research analyst at Beijing Antaike Information Development Company, said the export cuts were ''in line with government officials' comments that we need to protect the environment and resources. Controlling domestic production capacity, output and exports will continue to be the theme.''

    Curbing exports may further exacerbate tensions with the US, which last week said it may file a complaint at the World Trade Organisation over restraints on supplies of the minerals.

    Rare earth minerals are 17 chemically similar elements, including neodymium, cerium and lanthanum. Neodymium oxide, used in BlackBerrys, costs $US88.50 a kilogram - more than four times its price in 2009.
     
  19. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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  20. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/view/mineweb/en/page72102?oid=119064&sn=Detail&pid=102055

    Japanese auto manufacturers seek rare earth alternatives

    Given trade uncertainties with China and rising rare earths costs, companies that make high-tech products are developing alternatives to REE in order to not be at the mercy of future supply disruptions.

    After a diplomatic dust-up late last year between China and Japan--which resulted in a temporary two-month de facto ban of Chinese rare earth exports to Japanese manufacturers--several Japanese companies are now developing motors without rare earths components for use in the global automotive industry.

    Rare earth minerals are found in magnets that power electric cars and hybrids such as Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt.

    Toyota and Tesla are in the advanced stages of creating a hybrid induction motor that doesn't use rare earths. Toyota also announced plans to completely phase out rare earth metals from its electric and hybrid vehicles.

    The upcoming RAV4 EV Toyota will use an inductive motor supplied by Tesla. If successful, the innovation may also help Toyota reduce its dependence on rare earth metals in its Prius line.

    Toyota is also planning to develop a new magnesium-sulfur battery to replace the current standard of lithium-ion batteries, and is aiming to replace lithium within 10 years.

    Tesla has produced rare-earths-free technology in its all-electric Roadster spots car and its 2012 Model S sedan.

    Aisin Seki Co., Japan's largest transmissions manufacturer and also a Toyota Motor Corp. supplier, is now also developing motors for electric and hybrid cars that don't use rare earths. Aisin's research is being conducted jointly with its research until IMRA Europe in Brighton, England.

    Although Aisin is 22% owned by Toyota, it also sells to Volkswagen AG and Suzuki Motor Corp.

    Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization and Hokkaido University have jointly developed a motor that uses ferrite instead of rare earths. In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this month, Professor Satoshi Ogasawara of Hokkaido said, "Carmakers may be able to sell cars with ferrite motors in as little or two or three years, given where we are in the development process."

    Nevertheless, Toyota is hedging its bets with its plans to establish a rare earth extraction plant project in the Ganjam district of India. The joint venture between Toyota Tsusho and the Indian Rare Earths Limited, a state-owned company, is aimed at extracting rare earth elements essential for the production of rare earth magnets.

    Ironically, the largest new market for Toyota and Aisin just happens to be China. However, taking rare-earths out of the automotive manufacturing equation could also prove attractive to manufacturing cars for the Chinese market, automotive analysts have suggested.
     
  21. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703373404576147912954667734.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    India and Japan Look to Expand Rare-Earth Alliance

    TOKYO—India's trade minister said he and Japanese officials are talking about how the two countries can continue working together on rare-earth resources, as nations jockey to reduce their dependence on China.

    Japan and India signed a free-trade agreement to do away with tariffs on most trade between the two as they seek to bolster efforts to counter China's expanding economy. WSJ's Jake Lee and Finance Reporter Alison Tudor discuss.

    "It definitely figured in our discussions," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said Wednesday of the key industrial minerals. He met earlier in the day with Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, following the signing of an India-Japan free-trade pact. Mr. Sharma was speaking on the sidelines of a partnership summit of the two nations.

    According to a Japanese government statement, Mr. Maehara told Mr. Sharma that "he would like to make progress on rare-earth development."


    The free-trade agreement will do away with tariffs on 94% of trade between the two countries within 10 years. It also includes provisions that could make it easier for Japanese companies to invest in the development of rare earths in India, according to Takeshi Matsunaga, a Japanese foreign-ministry spokesman.

    Japan's technology industry makes it the world's largest importer of rare earths, needed for products from mobile phones to military hardware. It has sought alternative supplies since China reduced shipments last year. China produces 97% of the minerals.

    The free-trade deal came two days after official data showed Japan ceded its place as the world's second-largest economy to China in 2010. China's growing market for Japanese goods has galvanized corporate Japan, but many business leaders say the risk of diplomatic flare-ups with China highlights the need for more partnerships, like the one with India.

    India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in Tokyo last October that the two countries would explore rare-earth cooperation. About six weeks later, Japanese trading house Toyota Tsusho Corp., partly owned by Toyota Motor Corp., announced plans to construct a rare-earths processing plant in India in cooperation with Indian Rare Earths Ltd.—part of efforts "to secure supply sources outside of China," the Japanese company said at the time. Mr. Sharma said Wednesday that both Delhi and Tokyo support the joint venture.

    Separately, Mr. Sharma said Delhi isn't concerned about the recent weakening of the rupee, adding that he didn't see a link between the value of the currency and rising inflation.

    The rupee is "at the correct level," Mr. Sharma said. "It's not causing any concern or anxiety in the Indian government or to the Reserve Bank of India, which carefully monitors it."

    Inflation, by contrast, "is a matter of concern," Mr. Sharma said, although echoing comments Wednesday by Mr. Singh, he added added that it "will definitely come down."
     

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