U.S. Spends $120M USD to Set up Rare Earth Research Center to Counter China
January 10, 2013 3:30 PM
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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...
1/11/2013 1:38:21 PM
"Chinese price manipulation has taken its toll on the U.S. economy" I can think of a few areas in the US market place by US companies that takes its toll there and elsewhere in the world. Like the Oil Industry, Monsanto and Cargil in the Food Industry. Look at the stir created by Monsanto in India whereby the farmers can't afford to buy seed after growing Monsanto's first crop because they were not educated enough to see Monsanto's swindle. Same scenario as Oil. Theirs the world price of oil and a world price for seed, Monsanto's seed. These same players and others are carving up Africa's prime agricultural land. Natives knew who owned the land that was passed down from generation to generation, no written down proof, so the Military or Rebels or Terrorist being paid by outsiders, Agri Business,or any other Interests, are kicking the people off their land. The fighting that's going on is really not between the people but between the big Corporate Industrial groups. All these people will need jobs to survive, so you have cheap slave labor at your finger tips. What a circle jerk. First the Africans are brought to N America as slaves. 150 yrs later the N American Corporations go back to Africa and turn the natives into slaves again. Funny how history repeats itself.
"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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