The “Rare Earth”

You would think that on this first Saturday of Summer I would be writing something literary…..wrong… is something geopolitical  (as usual)……

Rare earth minerals are the cornerstone of the electronic age…….I have tried to educate my readers in the past…..

As the sector grows and more and more electronics are needed to power a society it is only a matter of time before a rare earth trade war erupts into a major conflict…..

Rare earth minerals have emerged as the latest front in the escalating US-China trade war. Nearly a decade after the Chinese government controversially suspended rare earth exports to Japan during the 2010 Senkaku dispute, similar threats are now being made if the bilateral trade dispute with the US deepens.

How prepared is the global economy for another deployment of the so-called “rare earths weapon”?

Rare earths are an ideal instrument for economic coercion. They are an essential input into a wide range of high-technology products, across the electronics, petrochemical, renewable energy and defence sectors. As there are few economically-feasible substitutes for their use, any suspension to rare earth value chains would have a disastrous impact on an economy’s technological ecosystem.

This article below is what made me start this post……the rise of electric cars will mean much more destructive mining…..

Climate warriors like to imagine a future where electric cars put oil companies out of business. Firms would stop injecting known carcinogens into the ground to break up the layer of hard, shale rock hiding stores of fuel, and they would no longer plumb the ocean depths for oil, letting sticky black goo leak into the sea.

To get to that future — a future where we don’t need to dig oil out of the ground— companies will need to dig a whole lot of metal out of the ground, and that’s potentially bad news for people who work in mines or live nearby.

Like solar panels and wind turbines, electric car batteries are made from some of the most hard-to-get metals on Earth— dysprosium, neodymium, manganese, cobalt and lithium — the list of materials reads like Tony Stark’s shopping list. Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are going to need a lot more of these metals if we are to build enough electric cars to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the stated goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.

More electric cars means more destructive mining

As with everything….one step forward, two steps backwards.

Enjoy the the first days of Summer.

10 thoughts on “The “Rare Earth”

      1. Exactly. Batteries need metals and chemicals to work, and they have to be mined and produced. Then after 7-10 years, they have to be replaced. And that means more heavy industry.

  1. “Despite the international hair-pulling over the constrained supplies, the rare earth quota crisis and its resolution has laid bare the vulnerability of China’s rare earths ‘monopoly’, as many have described it. After all, there is no shortage of proven rare earth deposits outside of China; the country’s dominance in the market doesn’t come from any physical exclusivity. It comes from the rock-bottom rare earth prices that hit the market because of China’s ability to produce and export these commodities cheaply, due to its highly developed industry and lower labour costs (not to mention lax environmental regulation and a booming cottage industry of illegal rare earth miners and exporters).”

  2. All paths forward seem to lead toward the earth being unfit for human habitation, resulting from human activity. The best we can hope for looks to be a collapse of civilization and return to Stone Age to start over. Am Zi being to pessimistic?

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