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July 25th, 2010

Rare earth’s brick wall

Published on July 25th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org
Lathanum

Lanthanum

This falls into the “must read” category. A few weeks back, I posted on major cuts in China rare earth exports. Science magazine’s  Robert F. Service provides more context:

“. . . Obama declared that the plant “is a symbol of where Michigan is going, … of where Holland is going, … of where America is going.”

That is, unless it runs into a Chinese brick wall.

This month, China announced that it will cut exports this year of rare-earth elements (REE) by 40%, leaving demand outside China exceeding the supply for the first time ever. Combined with Chinese export tariffs of 10% to 25%, the policy could ground fledgling efforts to build clean-energy industries in the United States and other Western countries. ‘It will just be untenable to compete’ with companies based in China, says Jeffrey Green, president of J. A. Green and Co., a government-relations firm in Washington, D.C., specializing in rare earths.

[ . . . ]

Although one of the most abundant rare earths, lanthanum could be hardest hit by China’s new export controls, which cap overall exports. Observers worry that companies, to increase profits, may try to export more high-value REEs, such as dysprosium and terbium, and drastically reduce lower-value elements such as lanthanum. That change, in turn, could result in price hikes for some elements.”

 


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