China and its Rare Earths Dilemma – Part 1/2

March 20, 2012

Recently, the media released a barrage of criticism on China regarding rare-earth minerals, since China produces 97 percent of the global supply of these vital metals.

This happened when President Obama said he would pressure China through the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the media mob focused on this threat while ignoring many of the facts.

For example, on March 13, 2012, the National Journal reported, “Obama Challenges China over its Hold on Critical Technology Materials.”

However, all but forgotten is what Reuters reported in January 2011, that China “slashed its export quota by 35 percent for the first half of 2011 compared with a year earlier, saying it wanted to conserve reserves and protect the environment … new environmental standard (in China), described as ‘stringent’ by an expert who helped draft the rules, would limit the amount of permissible pollutants in each liter of waste water…”

In fact, China’s tougher environmental laws designed to clean up the air, soil and water within the next decade may be the real reason behind China cutting back production of these rare metals igniting global concern and criticism regarding supply and demand. After all, how many countries, including the Untied States, are willing to pollute their environments to produce these rare earth metals?

To understand how much pollution is caused by the production of rare earths, according to How Stuff Works.com, “In recent years, rare earth metals like lithium have been imported almost exclusively from China, which was able to lower its prices enough to monopolize the industry. One of the reasons China could sell lithium so cheaply was because it widely ignored environmental safeguards during the mining process.”

In addition, while China’s critics bash China for environmental pollution, these same voices also criticize China for attempting to do something about the pollution by cutting back production of rare-earth metals and enforcing China’s laws designed to clean up the environment, which will also cause the price of rare earth to increase and pressure other countries to produce their own rare earths.

For another example, How Stuff Works.com says, “In the Bayan Obo region of China … miners removed topsoil and extracted the gold-flecked metals using acids that entered the groundwater, destroying nearby agricultural land. Even the normally tight-lipped Chinese government admitted that rare earth mining has been abused in some places.”

Why are China’s critics and the Western media along with President Obama pressuring China to resume business as usual, which means continuing to pollute its own environment?

Follow the money/profit motive, and you may find your answer. After all, rare earth minerals are vital for electronics, clean energy technology, computers, wind turbines, electric cars and the production of America’s high-tech weapons necessary in its war against global terrorism.

Continued on March 20, 2012 in China and its Rare Earth Dilemma – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Bringing the Pollution Home

June 5, 2010

Business Insider reports that China may soon restrict exports for rare-earth minerals that are used in hybrid car batteries, computers, cell phones, flat screen monitors and high tech weapons that the US military depends on to fight wars around the globe.

It’s about time that the United States and other countries that uses these rare earth metals builds their own refining capability.  Until now, they have bought from China, the only supplier on the planet.  However, China has announced plans to curb pollution and greenhouse emissions dramatically. One strategy is to offer huge rebates to Chinese who buy plug-in hybrids or all electric vehicles meaning China will be using what they refine.

Recently, China also expressed concerns about some of the minerals crucial to green technologies since extracting and refining them pollutes and causes serious damage to China’s environment. That means the US and other countries will have to build refining capabilities to extract and refine rare-earth metals at home instead of in China’s back yard.

See Cornering the Plug-In Hybrid all Electric Car

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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The Changing Landscape

March 25, 2010

Regardless of what Political Correctness requires most Americans to say in public about other cultures and ethnic groups, America’s national interests (meaning Americans making money and spending more) have dominated the globe for decades clearly showing a lack of respect for other cultures.

Today, the world is on the verge of a major shift away from America’s national interests as China rewrites the rules on trade, technology, currency, climate change, etc.

中国
China/Middle Kingdom

The March 22, 2010, issue of Newsweek, “It’s China’s World—We’re Just living In It“, talks about those changes. Where the American dollar once ruled supreme, the Chinese yuan is appearing around the Asia-Pacific as an alternative currency.

As I pointed out about the Chinese space race, China is now the only country making major investments in space exploration and their reasons are not to earn bragging rights by putting footsteps in moon dust but to discover fresh sources of rare minerals that are quickly being depleted on the earth.

Looking for opportunities, China has become the leader in green technology.

Meanwhile, America is missing the boat as political/religious agendas rule the behavior of the ruling class who squabble over global warming, school prayer, abortion, health care, stem cell research, evolution versus creationism, etc.