Monday, October 24, 2011

Chinese Choke Back Rare Earths

Chinese Rare Earth Company Strokes Mustache, Cuts Off World's Access to Rare Earths to Inflate Prices
China may only have 30 percent of the rare earths in the world, but they essentially have a monopoly--which the rest of the world has been tirelessly trying to work around. (To wit: Japan looks to Vietnam, the U.S. looks to California and Missouri, everyone looks under the sea.) In a slightly devilish business move, China sought to tighten their grip and raise prices by eliminating all sales to its major buyers, the U.S., Japan, and Europe, for one month.
I've mentioned the undersea and the recent huge Nebraska find before.  I discount the importance of the undersea finds.  It's a long way down, and I've heard this song before with manganese nodules, and it never quite came to fruition.  But the Chinese trying to make life tough (or at least more expensive) for industries that require rare earths may be advantageous in the short run, but disadvantageous in the long run if it actually spurs production in the US.  That, sadly, depends largely on whether the Federal government will permit that development.  I don't trust the current group to make the right choice.

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