Hard to believe there isn't a shortage of rare earth metals.

Give me your naysayers and your nattering nabobs of negativism! Think the rare earth metals are bursting from every seam and fold? Tell me about it!

ISTM our nation is coming up short in the supply of rare earth metals. Should something be done? Or am I just wrong?

Some points to consider. From this link:

Or this link: Dysprosium: Achilles’ heel of Hybrid, EV, and Wind Turbine Design:

Do the petro-companies want us to think green tech is not achievable? Or is this a genuine practical obstacle to green tech?

A different recent discussion about this subject.

There isn’t an actual shortage of what is in the ground but currently available sources that are able to get it out (and current means for the next ten years or so anyway) are to a large degree controlled by China. It will merely be another reason that many of these industries will locate their manufacturing facilities in China and that the Chinese companies making these products (batteries, turbines, etc.) will have a significant competitive advantage. At least during the next decade.

Thanks for the link :slight_smile:
Maybe this thread could use a punchline, so, from a link to the Greek meaning of the word Dysprosium:

Rare, as you know it, ain’t necessarily “rare.” I’d be satisfied owning the share of Unobtainium available worldwide to my predecessors.

That’s not very nice. I know for a fact that very rare metals are a physical reality.

I heard that China wants to eliminate the export of these materials. Maybe that means just what you describe though. They want to eliminate the export of the ore, but they’ll export the gear made with it. If so, that’ll lead to a pretty serious monopoly.

Bah, POS warfare. Let’s hope that the Chinese are bad at setting their strontium timers.

If Operation Unholy Nerd Rage tells us anything, it’s that the Chinese were pretty damn good at setting their strontium timers.

More on Chinas control of what German researchers call Gerwurzmetall - spice metals - on
Background Briefing.

Is silver a Gerwurzmetall? After all, it can turn your skin blue.

Obviously not, because you can procure silver pretty easily.

I think it’s mainly the lanthanides, down in the list at the bottom of the periodic table.

…the spice metal must flow?

It must.

Here’s a rather exhaustive explanation of what’s going on with Rare Earths. It’s long, but it pretty much touches on the entire thing.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/178225-on-the-rare-earth-crisis-of-2009

Here’s a snippett.

Great link. So… basically, the Chinese dominate this resource in the short term, so it is a free-market orgasm for them. Medium to long term the balance reverts to globalism, and everybody benefits from the big party.

For example, deposits of dysprosium will surely be found outside of China, disproving the 100% monopoly claim of a quoted article.

No, that’s not how I read it.

China artificially deflates the prices by subsidizing production for a decade in order to put foreign mines out of business. Specifically America and Australia who are two of the largest producers after China.

Then when the market market outside of the PRC has been decimated, the PRC stops subsidizing it and diverts all production to China’s electronics industry, so that China can dominate the industry for these items.

However, China’s internal demand for some of these products makes export less feasible, thus the export prices are driven even higher so that China profits mightily off of the small bit of the market that does make it to export. As a large proportion of the electronics manufacturing industry is already in China or other Chinese countries such as Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong etc… They can completely eliminate the export of the raw materials to other nations not in the ‘Sinosphere’ so to speak. Making the rest of the world dependent upon China for the purchase of consumer electronics and high-powered magnets that are in everything from your Prius, to the windmill on the ridge to the tips of deep-core mining drills.

So really, the Rare Earth industry is a de facto monopoly centralized in China, the Electronics industry in the rest of the world is screwed, and China profits. Likely they’ll invest in the foreign mines like the one owned by MolyCorp in California.

In short, they take a short term loss in order to fuck up Western industry. Rare Earths are already found outside China, it’s that it’s not profitable to extract them because it’s cheaper to buy from China, for now.

Yah so China is a major player. That’s pretty predictable. It isn’t as if other players in the rare earths aren’t possible.

I suppose it might take some entrepreneurial action on the part of western powers to assert themselves in green tech. Maybe it just happens to be my job to learn ya’all how to do it.

Start here: How many tons does industry need?

Well as the article points out the US used to be the biggest player, but that the largest producer in the world outside of China, MolyCorp shuttered their mine in California in due to its inability to compete with Chinese subsidies.

It takes time to ramp up production. Someone else on another forum where I am discussing this topic tells me that there are some projects to ramp up refinery production here in the states. I’m waiting to see if he’s got some cites for that.

Well the total world production seems pretty low. I’ll have to look back into the article. But the point isn’t so much how much it needs at current capacity, but the fact that these materials are necessary now in a way they never were before due to technologies that have only existed for the past couple of decades. Windmills, Hybrid Cars, etc…

It turns out in the real world that the strategy of selling things for years at below cost to drive out your competitors, then jacking prices up once you’ve got a monopoly, never works. Sure, you drive out your competitors, after losing money hand over fist selling below cost. But when you try to profit on your monopoly, something always fucks it up. Maybe government gets involved and smashes your beautiful monopoly. Or you start to jack up prices, and suddenly competitors start appearing by magic. Or you jack up prices, and somehow people manage to do without your supposedly irreplaceable product.

In this case it was the Chinese government that subsidized the selling at below cost.