Friday, July 13, 2012
China plans to dominate rare earth mineral consumption
China intends to boost its utilizations of rare earth minerals, transforming from a chief exporter to a major importer of the highly coveted industrial minerals by 2014. Rare earth minerals are 17 elements used in emerging technologies such as smartphones and hybrid cars. The country would prefer its own domestic high-tech industries consume the precious resources rather than shipping off the majority of its raw materials.
With this strategy, Beijing could go beyond controlling prices and products to dominating certain markets, such as magnets, which can be made stronger and smaller with rare earth minerals.
"By 2014 or 2015, China will probably be in a net import situation for certain rare earths," said Mark Smith, chief executive of Colorado-based miner Molycorp, which bought China-based Neo Material Technologies this year to increase its footrpint in China.
China is currently using 65 percent of the rare earth minerals it produces, as opposed to 25 percent ten years ago.
China has 55 million tons, or approximately half of the world’s rare earth minerals. Russia comes in second with 19 million tons, then the U.S. with 13 million.
"When the demand is there, that's where the supply has to go. Over 80 percent of the magnets produced in the world come from China and that is growing just tremendously every year," Smith told Reuters.
Read more of the Reuters story: reuters.com
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