Thursday, August 27, 2009

China to Ban Rare Earth Metal Exports of Terbium, Dysprosium, Yttrium, Thulium, and Lutetium (Global Mineral War?)

From the movie "Total Recall"

Richter: Mr Cohagen. You wanted to see me, sir.

Cohagen: Richter. Do you know why I´m such a happy person?

Richter: No sir.

Cohagen: Because I've got the best job in the solar system. As long as turbinium keeps flowing, I can do whatever I want. Anything. In fact, the only thing I ever worry about is, that one day, if the rebels win…it all might end.

As far as I can tell, turbinium is a fictional element, but the importance of the above quote is not lost on the below story.

China is acting like Mr. Cohagen, but instead of the turbinium flowing, China is turning off its flow of the rare earth metals that it exports to the rest of the world -- namely the metals Terbium, Dysprosium, Yttrium, Thulium, and Lutetium.

A draft report by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has called for a total ban on foreign shipments of terbium, dysprosium, yttrium, thulium, and lutetium. Other metals such as neodymium, europium, cerium, and lanthanum will be restricted to a combined export quota of 35,000 tonnes a year, far below global needs.

China mines over 95pc of the world’s rare earth minerals, mostly in Inner Mongolia. The move to hoard reserves is the clearest sign to date that the global struggle for diminishing resources is shifting into a new phase. Countries may find it hard to obtain key materials at any price.

This will definitely spark a resource war, because many of the rare metals are used in hi-tech electronic devices that fuel our technological age.

Source: London Telegraph

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