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Featured Battle for rare earths escalates as Pentagon gets involved

onebyone

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China Central TV says the US government is ready to use a law from the 1950s to speed up domestic production of rare earths in order to achieve self-sufficiency in minerals that are important in defence technology and mobile phones
by Chris Gill
Battle for rare earths escalates as Pentagon gets involved
The town of Baotou in Inner Mongolia is the hub of rare earth production in China, which dominates the global trade in the 17 rare earth minerals partly because countries like the US lack processing plants. File photo by AFP.
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(ATF) China Central Television's military channel has reported that the Pentagon is planning to use a law from the 1950s to 'militarise' rare earth production in the US.
According to the Chinese report, the US government will not hesitate to use the National Defense Production Act to accelerate domestic production of rare earths in order to achieve self-sufficiency in these mineral elements.

Rare earths are crucial in military technology. It reportedly takes 417 kilograms of rare earths to manufacture an F-35 fighter jet, and four tonnes of rare earth minerals for a Virginia-class nuclear submarine.

At present, 80% of rare earth mineral products in the United States are imported from China, while the rest are imported indirectly from China through other countries. The US does produce its own rare earths, but reportedly sends them to China for processing.

China Reference News Network reported on October 7 that the US media said that the US government is stepping up its efforts to obtain minerals that are essential to modern technology, but the supply of which is dominated by China. Mining companies have warned that this "monopoly" may take years to break.

A report by The Wall Street Journal, run on its website on October 5, said that in recent years the United States and other Western countries have invested in projects and approved licenses to exploit these resources, which are essential for the production of electric cars, mobile phones and wind turbines. But as these countries are still far behind China, they are accelerating their pace of development.

Last week President Trump was reported to have signed an executive order declaring a 'state of emergency' and authorising the use of the National Defense Production Law to accelerate the development of mineral resources. This law was used earlier this year to speed up the production of medical supplies to manage the coronavirus epidemic.

The report noted that on Monday the Irish-based Science and Technology Metals company said that the state-sponsored US International Development Finance Corporation invested $25 million in the company's production and recycling of battery metal materials such as nickel and cobalt.

Miners and analysts welcomed these measures, but they warned that mining will take about 10 years, and Western countries also need to develop the ability to process these resources into materials for final products.

'Overwhelming dominance'
Technology Metals CEO Brian Menell said: "Especially to change China's overwhelming dominance of rare earths, this is a process that takes many, many years. There is no shortcut."

The report pointed out that rare earth elements used in batteries and electronic devices are some of 35 minerals that the US government considers vital to the economy and national security. Of the 35 key minerals, 14 are not produced in the United States.

These include gallium, an element used in light-emitting diodes and semiconductors in mobile phones. Critical minerals are also used in low-tech sectors. China supplies half of the American barite, and barite is used in hydraulic fracking technology.

The report also pointed out that China's dominant position in many of these minerals has been established because of their abundant reserves in China.

It noted that until the 1980s, the United States had been the world’s largest rare earth producer and created rare earth processing technology, but now the United States has only one rare earth production mine – the Mountain Pass rare earth mine in California, and there is no processing plant in the US.

Another report on Netease said academics and others are petitioning the Chinese government to stop exporting rare earths. The amount of rare earths exported is declining rapidly every month. It noted that rare earths are also known as "industrial vitamins" because they are among the most precious mineral resources. Rare earths are also widely used in petroleum, the chemical sector, metallurgy, for textiles and ceramics, glass, magnet materials and other fields.

China’s rare earth reserves account for 23% of the world’s share and but supply 90% of the global market. China also has the world’s most complete rare earth industry chain, which means in order to make full use of the rare earths mined in various countries, they must come to China for processing, otherwise a lot of resources will be wasted.

Both the United States and Russia are making efforts to catch up. The amount of rare earths produced in the United States has reached 26,000 tonnes a year, but of most of this – 19,353 tonnes were shipped to China for processing.

Russian demand for rare earths is also high. Although Russia has the world's second largest rare earth reserves, its domestic rare earth production is low and the initial produce is also transported to China for processing.

It is understood that Moscow has invested heavily in the domestic rare earth industry and even reduced mining taxes and other policies to create an incentive to generate more production.

 

dbc

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China has a monopoly on rare earths refining technology, so other countries ship ore to China for refining
please tell us more about this amazing refining technology that only China has...:china:
 

hirobo2

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US knows China gonna slap them with rare earth bans after what they did to Huawei, TickTok, SMIC, etc. So now its rather funny to see US in panic mode. Lets also not forget US engineers and scientists suck plus America is a corrupt country. If conventional wisdom says US will have ree industry in 5 years, multiply it by 2.
 

hualushui

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I did but could not find it..may be its top secret. please do enlighten the rest of us.

why is you laughing emoji always in triplicate?
China also has the world’s most complete rare earth industry chain, which means in order to make full use of the rare earths mined in various countries, they must come to China for processing, otherwise a lot of resources will be wasted.
 

Nan Yang

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please tell us more about this amazing refining technology that only China has...:china:
 

CAPRICORN-88

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US knows China gonna slap them with rare earth bans after what they did to Huawei, TickTok, SMIC, etc. So now its rather funny to see US in panic mode. Lets also not forget US engineers and scientists suck plus America is a corrupt country. If conventional wisdom says US will have ree industry in 5 years, multiply it by 2.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
That is why Trump is so panicky today.
Trump surrounded himself with idiots and Yes man and today he is a complete dummy in a surreal environment.

China has still not unleashed its nuclear options yet. They are waiting until after the November 2020 re-election. They can wait.
As Kamala Harris openly said today in her debate with VP Mike Penis...
Trump USA has lost the trade war.
And who started it. Certainly not China.
 

CAPRICORN-88

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China drawn a lot of the lesson she learned from from Japan when US unleashed the Plaza Accord on Japan with the same allegations and fabrication in 1970's.
Japan is at USA mercy because Japan unlike China do not have a huge consumer market e.g. China annual auto sales is 29 million.
 

S10

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please tell us more about this amazing refining technology that only China has...:china:
It's a economies of scale thing rather than having some unbeatable technology. By sheer volume, China is able to refine rare earth elements at a cheaper cost than competitors. If US wants to go its own way, then it's their freedom to choose.
 

dbc

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It's a economies of scale thing rather than having some unbeatable technology. By sheer volume, China is able to refine rare earth elements at a cheaper cost than competitors. If US wants to go its own way, then it's their freedom to choose.
Of course, it is also well known that China itself is struggling to regulate its own rare earth industry and curtail illegal production and export.

First even if China is somehow able to curtail illegal local production of REE China cannot successfully impose a ban on export to just the US.
This is because other countries can and will circumvent the ban by importing from China and reexporting to the US for profit.
So the only way for China to achieve a ban on the US is to ban all exports and piss off everyone.


Two DOE/DOD pilot programs recently went live in the US that validated the program goals.
- Create a Profitable Business
- build a self-contained, scalable, modular and portable REE plant
- reduce / eliminate environmental impact
- P1 prove REE can be extracted from Appalachian coal
- P2 Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor (LFTR)

The US plans to share this process / technology / equipment with other countries such as Australia, Brazil and Vietnam.
Remember in terms of REE reserves Brazil + Vietnam = China

There is only one problem that will need some more time to resolve, the byproduct of the second program is Thorium (P2)
The nature of the problem isn't technical but adoption / propagation of LFTR and other ways to handle the Thorium by product.
This issue isn't unique to the US, but the Obama administration cancelled the expansion of Yucca mountain for nuclear
waste, making it impossible to keep expanding our current nuclear technologies without new ways to dispose of or recycle waste.

Extracting REE from coal using the CIX/CIC process on the other hand has no Thorium issue.

This is a fun video, @ minute 4:55 you see a LTFR

 

Pakistan Space Agency

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So currently, China can strangle the United State's ability to manufacture additional war material during a war with China?

Imagine PLAAF with J-20s and the USAF having to resort to WW1 propeller planes.
 

Paul2

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China also has the world’s most complete rare earth industry chain, which means in order to make full use of the rare earths mined in various countries, they must come to China for processing, otherwise a lot of resources will be wasted.
If you don't use the rifle, it gets rusty. They had to wait years to just to make an innuendo that they may shoot, while American industry had like 4 years now to wrap up, and retreat out of China at a leisurely pace, and restart production elsewhere.

Stark contrast with Hu's years:

— Japan: squeak

— Hu: "Bang!"

— Japan: ... (quickly shuts up)

— USA: ... "I DID NOTHINH!" (quickly shuts up too)
 

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