reply to post by tonypazzo
Ok it's been a while since I last posted on this thread, and - hey look - it was started back in Sep 2009!
Well, there was something I read in the news today that made me sit up and think in regards to this thread again:
US set to challenge China rare earth export restriction, BBC News, 13 March 2012
The US is set to file a case against China at the World Trade Organization challenging its restrictions on rare earth exports.
The European Union and Japan are expected to support the US in its case.
China produces more than 95% of the world's rare earth metals, and any restriction on exports from Beijing is likely to have a bearing on global
There have also been concerns that Beijing has implemented these quotas in a bid to ensure that prices of these elements remain low within China, a
move that critics say gives its manufacturers an unfair advantage.
However, China has denied these allegations, saying that it had enforced these quotas to ensure there was no environmental damage caused due to
OK, so here we are again, three years later...and on it goes!
Now, when I first started this thread, it was in the wake of Obama (and other Western leaders) pledging that one of the ways they would turn around
our failing economies would be through setting and delivering highly ambitious targets for growth of high-tech and alternative energy industries and
manufacturing/export sectors in our economies. All of which do somewhat rely on access to REEs at competitive and viable prices.
So here we are, 2012, and as I see it, this elephant in the room of REE availability is still somewhat getting in the way of that.
If you take a moment to re-read this thread, you may see that in 2009/2010, we were debating things like:
1. Well maybe that's why we're in Afghanistan - to secure favour in deals to extract the massive REEs there?
2. Well maybe the West will open up it's own alternative mines, and swallow the bitter pill of the heavy environmental (and therefore political) cost
of such operations to obtain it's own REEs?
3. Maybe China will buckle to the pressure, economical and political, and see it our way?
I too was thinking that maybe we were actually going to somehow beat off competition (most prominently from China by the way - I will provide reports
to back that up later) to secure favour to access Afghanistan's REEs, until yesterday. In the wake of yesterday's shocking events in Afghanistan, I
really do feel that the US coallition's reputation, and ability to compete with the likes of China for such large scale deals may have been
I think that may have been the straw that broke the camel's back? As I say, we know that even back in 2009, China were in Afghanistan and were seen
by some as being more likely to secure access for mining, because
of their different approach - i.e. to focus strictly on business, remain
detached from any military involvement - and all of the PR/diplomatic trappings that go with that - ignore human rights issues, and go with the flow
of that nation, supplying simply commercial and infrastructure deals in return.
It struck me as interesting, that the very
day after the latest US personnel/Afghanistan civilian shootings in Afghanistan, which have been
seen by many as completely undermining the West's relations with that nation, the very day after, we see this fresh story of a united return to focus
on diplomatic pressure to attempt to secure REEs from the Chinese?
Could it be that this is some kind of sign from the West that they recognise that they just served China the game for REEs in Afghanistan on a plate?
If not totally, enough to scupper the notion that they could have found a quick and easy (i.e. no vast open cast mines in my back yard) alternative to
As we left it on this thread, it seems efforts were being made to start up Western REE mines. However, re-reading the thread, it is not clear that
all of the key REEs were accounted for in those mines mentioned. Also, it was clear thet increasing their productivity to a level that eliminated
this issue of competitively priced alternative sources would take some years - clearly we aren't there yet if the West feels the need for this action
on China now.
Ditto with regards the mention of new ways to 'synthetically' manufacture the REEs in the West - it doesn't look like it's here yet. Is it the
Chinese who will reap the benefits of the West's latest PR disaster in Afghanistan, has this incident pushed the West's plans to gain access to
alternative REE mines back a few more years?
And, why should the Chinese release such a key strategic asset at such a crucial point in their own development?
edit on 13-3-2012 by
curioustype because: typo
edit on 13-3-2012 by curioustype because: typos - hope that's the lot!