A world in economic crisis

A crisis of the future? How the Watermelons aided China’s monopoly over rare earth minerals

Posted in China, Japan, rare eath minerals, watermelons aka Greens by Aussie on October 6, 2010

Recently I noticed a news report relating to China using its monopoly over rare earth minerals to put pressure upon Japan over disputed territory. Specifically, the Japanese won the territory during the Sino-Japanese war.  The incident that has sparked off a confrontation was related to a Chinese boat that had strayed too close to the islands. As a result of the action taken by the Japanese the Chinese have decided to refuse to ship to Japan rare earth minerals that are so necessary for the manufacture of electronics components such as LEDs etc. etc.

The Chinese would not have this monopoly except for the lunacy of the Watermelons aka the Greens.  As a bit of background here, according to Forbes, which has a really good report on the issue, the Chinese has this monopoly because the environmentalists had succeeded in shutting down the existing mines in the USA, and had successfully shut up millions of acres of land where mineral exploration could have yielded a rich deposit of these same rare earth minerals.

What is rare earth?Forbes states it this way:

Rare earth” refers to a collection of 17 elements from the periodic table, with Star Trek-sounding names like holmium, europium, neodymium, and thulium.  They tend to be found together, and exhibit similar chemical properties that make them useful — and in many cases vital — for a whole host of high-tech applications, such as superconductors, magnets, and lasers.  Rare earths are essential ingredients in many emerging “green” technologies, including wind turbines and batteries for electric cars.  A lot of advanced U.S. military hardware, including tank navigation and naval radar systems, also depends on rare earth-based components.

The last mine in the USA was shut down in 2002. For the watermelons the closing of that mine was a victory. However, in 2010 it should be seen as a disaster. The policies of the watermelons has aided and abetted the Chinese in having what is a near monopoly on rare earth. Considering the advancement in technology, as well as acceding to watermelon demands that we seek out new ways of generating electricity via the expensive and not so viable wind farms and solar panels, the reliance upon a near monopolistic source of supply is quite dangerous to the strategic requirements of most other nations.

The shift from manufacturing production in the USA (UK, Australia and Europe) to India, China and other South-East Asian nations is not a good move. What if the Communist Chinese became aggressive again?  The rare earth elements are required in items that are used for strategic defense. On top of that the shift in the manufacturing base has left millions of Americans unemployed.

There is no doubt that many of the watermelon policies must be reversed – and the sooner, the better. There needs to be a move to allow the rare earth mines to be opened and to be operational again. At the same time there needs to be a reversal on all those acres of land that have been locked up as reserves etc. so that the USA will not be as dependent upon other nations for oil, gas, and rare earth minerals.

I see this situation between China and Japan as a crisis in the making. If the monopoly situation is not reversed, and if we cannot reverse the watermelon demands relating to things like the manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels (which are manufactured in China rather than in say USA or Australia) then could be severe consequences in the long term.


2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Carlyle said, on October 10, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Another excellent article. You spotlight a very important specific narrow “tactical” crisis, but it is indicative of a general wide “strategic” problem – at the national and international levels. You obviously write from an Australian perspective, but is just as pertinent in the USA, if not even more so.

    I am not against foreign trade – but all such trades need to be viewed in light of National Sovereignty. We cannot trade away our necessary resources and core industrial base. For instance: I have no problem with some percentage or certain styles of classes of automobiles being imported. But we need to retain the ability to manufacture our own, if needed. Luxuries and “nice to haves” are one thing – “must haves” are another.

    In the end, that is why we need more energy independence. This need far overshadows any stories or reasons the environmentalists can come up with.

    And, now to come full circle back to the specific subject – rare earths are not only critical to semiconductors but to batteries – a critical component of better technology and our best hope for reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

  2. Aussie said, on October 23, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Carlyle I agree with every point that you have made on this subject.

    Here in Australia we do import a lot of cars, especially from Japan and Korea. We also manufacture some cars.

    In a time of war we need to have the ability to manufacture not just cars but also ships, aircraft and the like. Unfortunately Australia has been leaning heavily on overseas suppliers for warships, aircraft etc.

    With regard to rare earth metals, one piece of good news is that there seems to be a reserve available in West Australia. Once the mining gets underway it will be one more available source for the materials. In the meantime, the US needs to move forward on re-opening the mine in California.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: