UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 25, 2009

CHINA EYES BAN ON RARE METAL EXPORTS

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph, UK - 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 95% 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. Alistair Stephens, from Australia's rare metals group Arafura, said his contacts in China had been shown a copy of the draft, called Rare Earths Industry Devlopment Plan 2009-2015. Any decision will be made by China's State Council. "This isn't about the China holding the world to ransom. They are saying we need these resources to develop our own economy and achieve energy efficiency, so go find your own supplies", he said. Stephens said China had put global competitors out of business in the early 1990s by flooding the market, leading to the closure of the biggest US rare earth mine at Mountain Pass in California, now being revived by Molycorp Minerals.

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