U.S. Spends $120M USD to Set up Rare Earth Research Center to Counter China
January 10, 2013 3:30 PM
comment(s) - last by
Chinese price manipulation has taken its toll on the U.S. economy
Rare earth metals are an increasingly integral part of everything from automobiles to television sets. But the precious metals are
tightly controlled by China
, with an excess of 95 percent of current suplly coming from Chinese-owned mines and refineries. The degree of control has allowed China
to manipulate prices
, cutting back on demand to sell less material for the same amount of profit,
any businessperson's dream
I. New Private-Public Partnership Sets Aim on Chinese Mineral Hegemony
The problem is that it takes several years or more to bring rare earth metal mines and refineries online; and the capital costs of such facilities are very high. It took China decades of clever planning to set itself in its current peachy position of rare earth hegemony. Now the U.S. is racing to try to recover, before Chinese price manipulation deals too much of a blow to the U.S. economy.
U.S. Department of Energy
a relatively large investment of $120M USD to establish an
Energy Innovation Hub
under the supervision of
to research ways to expand domestic rare earth production and otherwise cut reliance on Chinese rare earth supplies.
The U.S. is investing deeply to try to cut its reliance on Chinese rare earth metal supplies.
[Image Source: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg]
The new lab, dubbed the
Critical Materials Institute (CMI)
, will be a joint effort between a number of large domestic firms in the private sector, universities, and top government research labs.
In addition to Ames Lab, other national labs involved include
Idaho National Laboratory
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
(ORNL). On the university side, major contributors will include
Colorado School of Mines
Univ. of California-Davis
Iowa State Univ.
(IA State), and the
Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute
Corporate partners include General Electric Comp. (
OLI Systems Inc.
Advanced Recovery, Inc.
, Cytec Industries, Inc. (
), Molycorp Inc. (
II. Attacking the Problem From All Angles
Among the research projects will be:
Improve extraction processes
Develop rapid deployment mining techniques
Develop rare earth material substitutes
Study and optimize supply chains to minimize waste
Top targets for domestic rare earth production include neodymium -- used in neodymium iron boron (NeFeB) hard drive magnets and cell phone components -- and samarium -- used in samarium cobalt (SmCo) drive magnets. Currently the U.S. has no domestic neodymium producers and only one domestic samarium producer.
The U.S. has no domestic producers of neodymium magnets. [Source: ThinkGeek]
Government Accountability Office
(GAO) in a
2011 research report
[PDF] suggests that the U.S. rare earth supply chain, phased out in the 1980s at a time when the 17-element family looked non-critical, will take approximately 15 years to rebuild. The new lab aims to assist in that slow and arduous recovery.
The U.S. also will continue to purse action against China before the
World Trade Organization
(WTO) where it has
about the Chinese price manipulation.
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RE: @#$%ing idoits...
1/10/2013 5:26:42 PM
More like battery producers were crushing batteries into local water supplies.
Look at the ridiculous instances of lead poisoning in Mexico as a result of the battery recycling programs there, and you'll have an idea why we kicked that load of toxic mess overseas.
If domestic industry had innovated and figured out cost-effective green and best-practices before causing birth defects and mental retardation in US townships all over the country, then we wouldn't have been
to abolish it altogether. Sad, but not the fault of regulation.
Its actually the fault of financialization - as more and more corporations adopted a publicly traded, earnings-per-share based accounting methodology, the focus on reinvesting into the company to generate tangible growth transformed into an incentive to inflate earnings numbers to reap a quarterly profit from the market.
This trend is especially strong among executives, as their compensation is usually in stock options. As long as the market likes your earnings numbers, you can make money every month, despite the lack of ACTUAL growth (new jobs added, markets entered, factories opened, innovation created).
In fact the opposite is now true for most firms; the more people you can fire, manufacturing you can avoid/outsource/offshore, the more small towns you can close with a single factory closure, the better Wall Streen investment firms like your stock.
Its all effed up man.
RE: @#$%ing idoits...
1/10/2013 7:21:43 PM
Its all effed up man.
Yep, sometimes it takes a hammer over the head before "we" actually "get it". And I'm not just talking about corporations dumping toxins into water.
"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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