China’s proposed ban of rare-earth metals

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Robomaniac   100 µW

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China’s proposed ban of rare-earth metals

Post by Robomaniac » Dec 07 2009 9:59pm

I was reading this article in the EDN magazine ( issue 22/2009)

really interesting... ... th+magnets
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is proposing a total ban on exports of terbium, dysprosium, yttrium, thulium, and lutetium and a restriction on neodymium, europium, cerium, and lanthanum to a total of 35,000 tons a year, which is far below global needs. Many of these metals are vital to energy-efficient technology. For example, neodymium finds use in rare-earth magnets for high-efficiency motors, and new front-loading clothes washers use rare-earth magnets in their motors.

According to a recent article (Reference 1), “No replacement has been found for neodymium that enhances the power of magnets at high heat and is crucial for hard-disk drives, wind turbines, and the electric motors of hybrid cars. Each Toyota Prius uses 25 pounds of rare-earth elements. Cerium and lanthanum are used in catalytic converters for diesel engines.” Manufacturers use terbium in the phosphors of CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) to tweak their light to a more pleasant spectrum.

China is currently the only producer of some of these metals
, so the country’s restriction or banning of its exports will affect energy-efficient products worldwide. According to the article, China’s intent is not to hold the rest of the world hostage; China needs these metals for its internal consumption.

China put many global competitors in rare-earth minerals out of business in the early 1990s by flooding the market, leading to the closure of the biggest US rare-earth mine, in Mountain Pass, CA, which Molycorp Minerals operates. The mine is one of the world’s largest and richest rare-earth deposits, and the company is producing a variety of green elements there. It plans to bring the facility back into full production and re-establish domestic manufacturing capacity.

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gestalt   10 kW

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Re: China’s proposed ban of rare-earth metals

Post by gestalt » Dec 07 2009 10:25pm

Well prehaps a windfall of this will be that the US will get back into manufacture and learning to use our own resources. These are the kinds of inevitable changes that create an environment that will breed more self reliance for us yanks. Some day we'll learn that you can only embrace change or have it thrust upon you.
- be seeing you

swbluto   100 GW

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Re: China’s proposed ban of rare-earth metals

Post by swbluto » Dec 07 2009 10:49pm

If China reduces global supply, then the price of the rare metals will increase thus making once unprofitable rare-earth ventures that were put out of business, back into business.

So, in the end, everybody will still have their rare-earth supply, just at higher prices which is a shame.

Also, according to wikipedia, neodymium isn't rare at all. It estimates 38 mg of neodymium per kilogram of the earth's crust.

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: China’s proposed ban of rare-earth metals

Post by dogman dan » Dec 08 2009 6:40am

Bet they don't restrict exports in the form of finished products.

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1of3   10 W

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Re: China’s proposed ban of rare-earth metals

Post by 1of3 » Dec 11 2009 10:59pm

"China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is proposing a total ban on exports of"......
......child/forced/slave labor produced products.....
Good 4 'em......

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