[LINK] China Blocks Vital Exports to Japan - or not?

Fernando Cassia fcassia at gmail.com
Sun Sep 26 13:26:25 EST 2010

On Sat, Sep 25, 2010 at 11:03 PM, Kim Holburn <kim at holburn.net> wrote:
> On 2010/Sep/25, at 6:41 PM, Fernando Cassia wrote:
>> Am I the only one who sees the risk of relying on "rare" minerals for
>> advanced, and at the same time disposable technology?.
> Can you expand on this a bit?  I wasn't thinking of Priuses as being
> disposable although perhaps they are.  What of our technology isn't
> disposable?  Stone buildings?  It's not as though we don't at least
> try to recycle electronics:
> http://www.zdnet.com.au/e-waste-spring-clean-your-tech-junk-339305330.htm

I was thinking of LCD screens in smartphones where "planned
obsolescence" -due to lack of software upgrades after a manufacturer
has discontinued them- kicks in and people end up replacing their
phones every two years.

Or people dumping perfectly working LCD screens just because new ones
with "3D" or higher refresh rates or whatever came to the market.

More on planned obsolescence:

Some stuff I´ve written on how open source software at least helps
extend the life of products:


And here, an interesting article at an investment forum on the use of
REE on, among other things, LCD screens:


Without REEs the LCD computer screen you might be looking at to read
this couldn’t be built, your computer hard drive, all hybrid cars,
wind turbines or even the x-ray machine that might save your life one
day are all dependent upon REEs. If you find this interesting, try
sending this as a message over your BlackBerry to someone to tell them
about it. But . . . without REEs, you wouldn’t be able to, because
your BlackBerry wouldn’t work.

Are there enough REEs available?

Yup, there are a whole bunch of REEs available around the world. But
there are very few locations where they are found in commercially
viable deposits. When we say commercially viable we mean where a
company can go in, pull enough of the stuff out of the ground, send it
to be processed, separate it and make enough money at the end of this
cycle to make the whole effort worthwhile. Sounds simple – but the
devil is in the details.

China now controls 95 – 97% of the world’s supply of the stuff and
they have recently decided that they need much of that limited supply
to support their own internal needs. So this has created a modern day
gold rush for new sources of supply.

But just like the Klondike gold rush over 110 years ago, some
prospectors are deep in the hinterland far removed from civilization
and any source of infrastructure looking for their deposits. Many
Klondike prospectors found gold, but the long trek to get the stuff
back to civilization did them in. But more on that later.

Back to the question of whether there are enough REEs available to
meet the world demand. Remember, there are 15 metals classified as
REEs. Some are classified as Light REEs and others as Heavy REEs. Of
these 15 metals, some are way more valuable than others. The world
demand for some of these metals will outstrip the current supply in a
time frame that can be measured in months not decades. More
specifically, the world is fast running out of some of the heavy rare
earths (HREE). Already, we are starting to see the impact of select
REE shortages.


Just my $0.02...

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